AmCham Taiwan’s 2022 Healthy Aging Forum was held on December 6 at the Mandarin Oriental Taipei, drawing an audience of around 100 members and their guests. The event, which featured speakers and panelists from government, academia, and industry, gave stage to a diverse range of viewpoints on possibilities for public-private partnerships (PPPs) in promoting healthy aging.
The 2022 edition of the forum featured opening remarks from American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Acting Director Jeremy Cornforth and AmCham Taiwan Vice Chairperson Andrea Wu. The keynote speech was delivered by Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) Lee Li-feng.
Wu emphasized the effect of Taiwan’s changing demographic on the labor market and medical resources, noting that the forum itself serves as a perfect example of what can be accomplished through PPPs. The government’s willingness to invest in healthy aging is an indicator of Taiwan’s devotion to the health of its population, said Wu.
Acting Director Cornforth commended Taiwan for its commitment to building an age-friendly society, noting that Taiwan’s policies are closely aligned with WHO guidelines. He further expressed his confidence that innovative companies will continue introducing treatments with improved outcomes, easing the strain on the healthcare system.
Public-private cooperations are critical to achieving healthy aging, Cornforth said, and the United States stands ready to work hand-in-hand with Taiwanese actors to promote a healthier society.
In her speech, Deputy Minister Lee made note of the growing momentum for collaboration between the public and private sectors in addressing the needs of an aging society. In recent years, the government has updated its long-term care strategy, updated its aging society White Paper to reflect societal trends, and increased its budget for addressing this issue by NT$120 billion in November. Lee also outlined the government’s goals for creating an inclusive, senior-friendly society through collaborations and cutting-edge technology.
Rifat Atun, a professor of Global Health Systems and the director of Harvard University’s Health Systems Innovation Lab, joined the event via video. Atun noted that the rise of chronic disease, physical and cognitive decline, multimorbidity, pandemics, and expanding healthcare access inequality are placing enormous strain on healthcare systems worldwide.
However, Atun also emphasized that technological innovations have made it possible to address healthcare-related challenges more efficiently. Additionally, healthcare access could be significantly improved by enhancing institutional logic, investing in inclusive strategic PPPs, taking integrated action, increasing health investments, and enabling widespread access to innovation.
Ho Chi-Kung, a professor at Kaohsiung Medical University, moderated the first panel discussion of the event, where panelists discussed opportunities and difficulties in addressing threats related to cardiovascular diseases. Professor Li Yi-Heng of the National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Lee Po-Chang of the MOHW’s Health Promotion Administration, and Fran Milnes, country president of Novartis Taiwan, took part in the discussions.
The next speaker, Kaohsiung Municipal Kai Syuan Psychiatric Hospital Superintendent Chou Huang-chih, emphasized the value of early intervention in mental health. Chou noted that depression is a common occurrence in the senior population as well as for those who care for patients with mental illnesses. Cutting-edge therapies like long-acting injectable medications and new technologies can improve the quality of life for patients and their families, he said.
Chou’s speech was followed by a panel discussion on collective actions for mental healthcare, moderated by Chen Cheng-Sheng of Kaohsiung Medical University’s College of Medicine. Panelists were MOHW Department of Mental Health Director Shen Li-Chung, Chou Huang-chih, and Taiwan Association for PsychoSocial Rehabilitation Secretary General Teng Hsi-hua.
Introducing the third and final topic by looking at Taiwan’s dementia challenges from the perspective of comorbidity risk was Taiwan Neurological Society President Hu Chaur-jong. Hu briefed the audience on a number of dementia risk factors, such as lack of education and hearing loss, and stressed the value of prevention through diet, cognitive training, physical activity, and social interaction.
Following Dr. Jong’s speech, President of the Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association Hsu Wen-chuin moderated a panel discussion on flipping dementia disease to create a healthy aging society. Panelists underscored the importance of forging partnerships between government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations to prevent dementia and assist patients’ family members.
Joining on stage for the discussion were MOHW Deputy Director of the Department of Long-Term Care Wu Hsi-wen, CEO of the National Health Research Institute’s National Center for Geriatrics and Welfare Research Hsu Chih-cheng, and Taiwan Neurological Society President Hu Chaur-jong.
Closing the event, AmCham President Andrew Wylegala noted that AmCham Taiwan, as an organization of scale and expertise, stands ready to bring together actors promoting healthy aging and assist in forging public-private partnerships.
The event was sponsored by Eli Lilly, Janssen Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis.