Good evening! I am very pleased to see so many health officials and experts here today. I am sure you would all agree, the collective health and medical knowledge and experience in this room today demonstrate the shared interests we all have in providing the highest quality care to the peoples of our two countries.
The Australian Consulate-General in Chengdu is following with deep interest Chengdu’s ambitious agenda for health reform. In line with the objectives set down in the Healthy China 2030 strategy, this city seeks to become a national leader in health outcomes for its residents, and Australia stands with you as a partner.
Australia and China share a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and our links in health and life sciences have expanded rapidly in recent years, across hospital and clinical services, medical training and professional development, standards and accreditation, biotech and medtech and joint research.
Australia’s health system is among the strongest performing in the world. It’s a system that delivers strong health outcomes – for example, life expectancy is close to the highest in the OECD and our average five-year cancer survival rate is 67%, based on prudent expenditure with health spending accounting for around 10% of GDP.
The performance of our health sector is underpinned by a world-class medical research ecosystem. We have a long history of fundamental medical discovery – eight of our 15 Nobel Laureates were awarded their prizes for physiology or medicine, including Prof Barry Marshall, who collaborates extensively with Huaxi Hospital in Chengdu on research into gastric ulcers. Six of Australia’s universities are ranked in the top 100 globally for clinical research.
Among Australia’s most notable medical breakthroughs is the cochlear hearing implant. The company that commercialised that implant technology, Cochlear – the largest provider of its kind globally – is establishing a manufacturing and hearing innovation centre in Chengdu that will support this city’s ambitions to become a leader in hearing health tech and treatment. Building on our tradition of ingenuity and innovation, today our companies are pioneering technologies in fields such as melanoma detection devices, non-invasive blood glucose monitoring systems and world-leading cardiology diagnostics.
Australians receive the best-in-class healthcare services across the entire health system in Australia that comprises a mix of public and private services. Australia’s universal health system was introduced in 1984 to eligible Australian residents. Furthermore, Australia was the first country in the world to establish the role of a Federal Minister for Aged Care and has had formal aged care legislation in place for more than 60 years. We have a long history of cooperation between government, service providers and the community, supported by a robust regulatory framework.
And just as Australia has been a pioneer in delivering medical breakthroughs, healthcare services is part of Australia’s next medical frontier - delivering consistent, affordable, humane, efficient, and innovative healthcare services for the world’s future generations. Australia’s cancer treatment specialist Icon Group is collaborating with Chongqing Chang’an Sanbo Hospital to provide world-class oncology treatment services to patients from Southwest China.
Here in Southwest China, our growing range of commercial and research partnerships also cover vaccine R&D commercialisation, infectious disease research, professional training and development, healthcare consultancy and design services.
Ladies and gentlemen, as a leading centre for health research and practice, Chengdu is already a key partner for Australia in the sector, with the promise of greater collaboration to come – there is much we can share across commercial, research and policy partnerships.
Thanks again for the invitation. I wish today’s gala dinner great success.