Focusing on comparative health care policy in Asia

KarenHospitalChina.jpg

AHPP director Karen Eggleston with physicians and nurses of Shandong Provincial Hospital's Endocrinology department.
Photo credit: 
courtesy Karen Eggleston

Comparative, policy-oriented research aimed at improving health care and the overall quality of life across the Asia-Pacific region is at the heart of AHPP’s mission and activities. As a research program within a world-class university, focusing exclusively on comparative health policy in Asia, it is unique. AHPP aims to provide evidence for addressing key health policy challenges in the Asia-Pacific, from links between poverty and ill health, to improving “value for money” and defining appropriate government and market roles in health systems. The program brings researchers to Stanford for on-site collaboration, and creates opportunities for Stanford students to conduct research in and about Asia.

The study of comparative health policy at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) dates back almost a quarter century, with its roots in the Comparative Health Care Policy Research Project inaugurated in 1990. Starting with pioneering research on health economics in Japan, the program has expanded since then to encompass research on health policy and demographic change throughout the region, albeit with a continuing focus on East Asia in comparative perspective.

Collaborative initiatives and global researchers

AHPP’s leading-edge research involves experts on both sides of the Pacific. Among its current core research initiatives, AHPP is investigating the economic and social implications of Asia’s unprecedented demographic change, especially population aging and gender imbalance in China, as well as examining the determinants of health and health disparities among Asian populations.

AHPP is also analyzing evidence on health service delivery and financing in the Asia-Pacific region, such as the impact of expanding insurance coverage, reforming provider payment incentives, and contracting with the private sector. In addition, the program is conducting a comparative analysis of the historical development of health care institutions — like physician drug dispensing and recent reforms to separate prescribing from dispensing. AHPP also sponsors collaborative initiatives to address critical global health issues, including tobacco control, promotion of child health, and control of infectious diseases.

Preparing future health care policy experts

The program is dedicated to training the next generation of health policy experts: undergraduate and graduate students gain crucial research experience by their involvement in AHPP’s research initiatives, as well as invaluable mentoring for their own projects. A postdoctoral fellowship was initiated in 2008, followed three years later by a fellowship for young health policy experts from low-income countries of Asia.

In addition to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, recent AHPP publications include Aging Asia: The Economic and Social Implications of Rapid Demographic Change in China, Japan, and South Korea and Prescribing Cultures and Pharmaceutical Policy in the Asia-Pacific. AHPP also runs its own working paper series that is open to scholars and health policy experts around the world.

Annual workshops and engaging seminars

Each year, AHPP assembles some of the world’s greatest health policy minds at Stanford to examine focused topics at conferences and workshops, resulting in special issues of journals, edited volumes, and ongoing collaborative research. In this thirtieth anniversary year of Shorenstein APARC, director Karen Eggleston organized a conference on “Economic Aspects of Population Aging in China and India,” co-sponsored by several related research programs at Harvard University.

In addition, AHPP organizes numerous public seminars throughout the academic year. Recent topics have included the battle against HIV/AIDS in Cambodia; immunizations and child health in Bangladesh; population aging in Japan; Vietnam’s health policy challenges; tobacco control in China; air pollution in South Asia; private health insurance in South Korea; and many other important health policy-related issues.