Information is always important. I am sharing the below guest post, in hopes of doing just that. Thanks for stopping by Tom’s Take On Things and feel free to share, comment, and be an active part of this site! ~Tom
Are the standards of healthcare in Asia improving?
Asia is a vast continent, the largest on the planet, and the one that contains the most people. It comprises both very large and much smaller countries. Among the major nations are China, Kazakhstan, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Iran, as well as many more. Geographically, Russia occupies the biggest proportion of Asian territory at 30 percent, while the Maldives is the smallest area. Unsurprisingly, standards of healthcare vary enormously throughout Asia, with some regions providing excellent resources, some making good progress and others still struggling. Here is a brief outline of some of the key issues.
Case study: Southeast Asia
In recent years, many changes have occurred in terms of healthcare in Southeast Asia. Both the population and the economy have grown rapidly, and while the public health sector has broadened and introduced important reforms in response to requirements for better services and resources, there is also an increased demand for private healthcare from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Data from the World Bank in 2011 indicates that, in terms of public and private expenditure on healthcare combined, Vietnam spends the most (about seven percent) while Myanmar spends the least (less than four percent) as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). However, compare this with figures such as almost 18 percent in the US, and it’s clear that there is still some way to go for Southeast Asia to catch up with healthcare expenditure elsewhere.
Philanthropists working to improve services
The issue of healthcare across Asia has become the focus for many philanthropists in the region. These efforts are numerous and approach the problem in different ways, from highly targeted campaigns to deliver service such as emergency care, through to more all encompassing initiatives aimed at improving access to resources such as safe water, healthcare advice and high quality nutrition. Many business leaders from Asia and the Middle East are seeking to give back to their local communities, a prime example being the Bayat Foundation’s founder Ehsanollah Bayat. Bayat, through the Foundation, is transforming healthcare provision for women in his native Afghanistan, providing access to modern maternity services in communities where such care has previously been out of reach. In India, where an estimated 70% of the population have little or no reliable healthcare services, the entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has pledged millions of her business fortune to improve access to medical care.
Top quality Asian healthcare
In an article for International Living, Malaysia was cited as the third best place in the world for healthcare, after France and Uruguay. Here, healthcare is said to be among the finest in terms of quality and the cheapest in terms of affordability, and as a result, health tourism is on the increase. Although visitors cannot access the public health services, the costs charged by the private NGOs are so low as to be genuinely inexpensive. Clearly, Malaysia has the capacity to pass on its success – costs for standard procedures such as a dental check up are about $9, while a visit to the doctor is about $16.
Increasingly, private investors are taking more and more interest in the region – for example, Indonesian healthcare – and while Thailand already has a well-developed sector, private investment continues to increase rapidly. Overall, it would seem that where government provision is overwhelmed or functioning below par, investment in NGOs currently has the capacity to deliver workable solutions for the long-term future of healthcare in Asia.