The initiative was first raised by China’s President Xi Jinping during his visits to Central Asia and Southeast Asia in 2013. Established with the aim to “promote orderly and free flow of economic factors, highly efficient allocation of resources and deep integration of markets by enhancing connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas” – the China-led BRI has been acknowledged to be the future of global collaboration.
BRI – providing sustainable economic and social development globallyThe BRI is welcomed as being perfectly in sync with the theme of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2018 – “Creating a shared future in a fractured world” – which was held from 23 to 26 January.
The participants agreed that the BRI presents a unique opportunity to drive sustained economic progress by connecting continents through infrastructure, cultural and technological exchange.
Regarding to health co-operation, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has complimented the proposed global initiative during his attendance to the Belt and Road High-Level Meeting for Health Co-operation in Beijing, China.
“As a community, as countries that are inextricably linked, we are only as strong as our weakest link,” echoed Dr Adhanom, “and this is why a global initiative that elevates health to the centre of economic and social development is immensely encouraging.”
He has also stated that the issues on managing outbreaks, prevention and medical treatment of critical diseases, and women’s and children’s health and development are “well represented in the documents on Belt and Road”.
● Budget 2018: An extensive overview on the possibility of improving Malaysia’s healthcare system
● MHTC: Infrastructure, resources and tactical approaches to boost Malaysia’s thriving medical tourism industry
● The complementarity of TCM and Western medicine
Bringing China’s medical expertise to Malaysia, South-East AsiaThrough the Malaysia-China Belt and Road Healthcare Dialogue, medical experts from both countries shared their experiences and opened new opportunities.
According to Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia aimed to increase the doctor-to-population ratio to one to 400 by 2020 – to make it comparable to Singapore and the United Kingdom.
During the dialogue, Dr Wee also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for Promotion of International Exchange of Healthcare, between DBH Medicare Sdn Bhd, DBH Holdings Sdn Bhd’s healthcare subsidiary, and the Middle-Aged and Elderly Healthcare Branch of the China Association.
Datuk Benny Hoe, Managing Director of DBH Holding, noted that DBH Medicare’s opportunities to explore areas of collaboration with medical and healthcare institutions in China will increase.
“What we hope to do, is to bring China’s medical expertise not just to Malaysia, but also to South-East Asia, and vice versa,” he said.
Quoting Sherene Azli, CEO of Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, China was also one of Malaysia’s key markets for medical travel. The reason being that there was an increase of 17% in Chinese healthcare travellers seeking treatment in Malaysia in 2016.
As part of the BRI and for medical travel industry opportunities, Datuk Benny Hoe commented that DBH Medicare was looking at linking local private healthcare providers with its China counterparts.
Nations to work hand-in-hand, fostering each other
Singapore’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Chan Chun Sing has stated that Singapore can play a critical role as a “global financial hub, providing the banking and legal support for projects, as well as facilitating in the software transfer to ensure projects are sustainable once completed”, during a session at WEF.
During the Belt and Road High-Level Meeting for Health Co-operation, China has signed about 20 co-operation documents to deepen its partnerships.
“China’s initiative will not only raise healthcare quality in BRI countries, but also spur research and innovation in medicine and enhance countries’ surveillance of communicable diseases,” asserted Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Lam Pin Min, who leads Singapore in the health co-operation meeting.
Dr Adhanom further commented that “China has much to teach us about these issues. It's a world leader in disease surveillance and outbreak control, and was one of the first countries to step in during the Ebola outbreak.” MIMS
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