Governments in Asia-Pacific struggle to adapt to rising chronic disease burden
- New report says healthcare systems in the region need to shift resources to better manage increase in chronic conditions
- Asia-Pacific region in an epidemiological transition dominated by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that are driven by ageing, unhealthy lifestyle choices
- Emerging chronic disease burden brings need for more patient-centric healthcare
People in the world’s most populated continent are living longer, but not necessarily healthier, lives with overburdened, provider-led healthcare systems. As life expectancy across Asia-Pacific continues to rise, the region now carries a huge global burden of non-communicable diseases such as cancer and mental illnesses. As a result, governments in the Asia-Pacific region will need to consider policies and initiatives that prioritise improvements in care for people with a wide range of chronic conditions—but they must maintain vigilance against infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
These are among the findings of a new study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU): The shifting landscape of healthcare in Asia-Pacific: A look at Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea, sponsored by Janssen. Through in-depth desk research and interviews with healthcare experts, the study examines the disease-burden challenges facing healthcare systems in these countries.
The study also highlights that the region does not have enough doctors to address demands in many of its countries. Doctor-dominated care is also too expensive for dealing with large numbers of NCDs. A greater focus on primary care is an important first step but is only part of the story. The study also finds that patients must be given the ability to care for themselves as much as possible, which will mean they will be partners in, rather than passive recipients of care. This will require a cultural change, but evidence shows that without this, secondary prevention—and reduction of the NCD burden—will be a Herculean task.
Countries in Asia-Pacific often espouse a wish to create a patient-centric, integrated care approach to combat the growing disease-burden, but few successful examples exist. In Australia, however, the Flinders Chronic Condition Management Programme has created self-management support processes that involve true partnership between patient and clinician. Early studies indicate that it is improving healthcare outcomes as well.
Charles Ross, the editor of the report, said:
“Healthcare systems in the Asia-Pacific region are struggling to manage the rise in NCDs and the shift to long-term treatment of chronic conditions. Research shows that patient-centric care is most effective in this area, but this requires behavioural changes by both patients and doctors if healthcare systems are to prioritise cost-effective prevention and still be accessible for episodic care.”
The report is available to download here.
Charles Ross, senior editor
Notes to editors
About The Economist Intelligence Unit
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