SINGAPORE: Singapore has made progress on public health care challenges, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says there is still room for improvement and learning from other countries can help in this.
Mr Lee made these comments at the opening of the World Health Summit on Monday evening.
This is the first time the summit is holding its regional meeting in Asia, with Singapore playing host.
Looking ahead, Mr Lee said there are four challenges that all countries, including Singapore, need to prepare for.
They are non-communicable diseases, ageing, healthcare affordability and emerging infectious diseases.
While the government will study how to provide more targeted financial support in areas such as chronic disease management, preventive and long-term care, Mr Lee said efficient delivery systems are required to keep health affordable.
He also said Singapore can tap innovations from other countries in this - such as e-consultations and mobile phone diagnostic kits.
He also cited techniques the UK has used to encourage people to live and eat healthily.
Mr Lee said: "For instance, the UK has gotten some fish and chip shops to use salt shakers with fewer holes to reduce salt consumption. Stanford University researchers have found that people who watched avatars of themselves running on a treadmill were more likely to exercise, compared to those who watched their avatars lounging.”
Strengthening international cooperation is also key when it comes to fighting infectious diseases.
He said: “New infectious diseases have continued to emerge around the world, including the first cases of H7N9 infection in humans just days ago. Infectious diseases do not respect international boundaries. Viruses don't need passports. Early warning surveillance systems, information sharing and coordinated cross-border infections control remain critical to combating this threat. Therefore, we must continue to strengthen our links with the WHO and other public health agencies as a vanguard against future pandemics."
The threat of infectious diseases such as H7N9 is an example of some of the topics of discussion which will take place at the three-day summit.
The event will see some 900 delegates from 46 countries gather to discuss pertinent issues in Asia. This includes innovations in financing, community-based care and endemic infections.