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JCIE and ERIA Announce Winners of the 1st Healthy Aging Prize for Asian Innovation Award

31 July 2020

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Tokyo and Jakarta, 31 July 2020: A virtual event to celebrate the Grand Prize and Second Prize winners of the 1st Healthy Aging Prize for Asian Innovation (HAPI) award was held today on 31 July 2020 to showcase the organizations that have made groundbreaking advances to tackle the problems related to Asia’s aging population. This year’s awardees were selected from more than 130 applicants from 12 countries and regions under three categories: Technology and Innovation, Community-Based Initiatives, and Supporting Self-Reliance.

HAPI was created to address the challenges facing aging societies by recognizing and amplifying innovative policies, programs, services, and products. The award is the initiative of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) under the auspices of the Japanese government’s Asia Health and Wellbeing Initiative (AHWIN). The awardees were selected by an international committee that included, in addition to ERIA and a representative from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), four experts representing four countries - Japan, Malaysia, Singapore,  and Viet Nam.

HAPI’s wide-ranging coverage allowed a diverse range of organizations—including community organizations, NPOs, associations, local governments, businesses, and others— across Asia to apply for the award. The initiative provides an important platform for organizations to reveal how they are innovating for a set of interconnected issues.

In his opening remarks, Mr Akio Okawara, the President of JCIE, congratulated all the prize winners and expressed great appreciation for all those who submitted applications.  He highlighted the fact that the competition was very intense and that the number and diversity of applicants proved that ‘innovation can come from any place and any sector’.  He further explained that the real spirit of the award was to promote learning from one another.

In his opening comments, Prof Hidetoshi Nishimura, President of ERIA, conveyed his deep gratitude to all the teams and individuals who participated in the awards.   During the award selection process, he said  ‘we were strongly reminded of the significance of innovation to adapt to the new normal, and the importance of community efforts in maintaining social bonding. Reading these bright ideas in the midst of the pandemic gave me encouragement and I must say each and everyone deserves to be honored’.

Three exceptional organizations took home the Grand Prize in three categories. Thailand’s Foundation for Older Persons’ Development (FOPDEV) took the top spot in the Technology and Innovation category for its Buddy HomeCare: Community-Based Healthcare Management and Monitoring System. FOPDEV developed a mobile app-based system for healthcare management and monitoring, including health screenings, individual healthcare program design, and follow-up. This technology equips impoverished youth with training to be caregivers while also providing the elderly cost-effective, high-quality home care services.

On behalf of the Buddy HomeCare program, Ms. Oraphan Mongkolpanasatit shared that she herself came from a poor family and strongly believes that ‘together we can make a better society.’

After congratulating FOPDEV, Prof Nishimura said ‘The selection committee was very impressed with Buddy HealthCare’s unique approach, leveraging technology—a smartphone app—to create a community-based healthcare monitoring system that solves multiple problems. You are addressing both the lack of care services for older people and the lack of job opportunities for impoverished youth from the indigenous hill tribes, and at the same time offering a way to share health information between older people, care providers, and family members. The technology itself may not be the most advanced that we saw among the many wonderful applications, but this innovative application of a relatively simple technology was what earned you the grand prize’.

The Community-Based Initiatives category’s Grand Prize went to HelpAge International in Viet Nam with its Intergenerational Self-Help Club (ISHC) Development Model. With nearly 3,000 Self-Help Clubs nationwide, the organization has become one of the largest care providers in Viet Nam promoting healthy longevity through a range of intergenerational activities.  Speaking on behalf of HelpAge, Ms Tran Bich Thuy, Country Director Viet Nam, stated that most older people prefer to continue living in their own communities.  ‘We should trust the communities’ to be self-reliant.

Prof Nishimura congratulated HelpAge International, referring to it as an ‘outstanding project’ and explained some of the reasons they were selected for the Grand Prize: ‘Your model has proven to be sustainable and has been replicated in many other areas of Viet Nam. Now, we understand HelpAge is conducting training in other countries to share the model with even more people. That broad impact of the model and the fact that it not only provides health care and social engagement but also empowers older people through skill development and income-generating activities are the key reasons why you were selected as a grand prize winner.’

Japan’s Komagane City was the Grand Prize winner in the Supporting Self-Reliance category with its Preventing Stroke Recurrence through a Hospital–Local Government Partnership to Support Patient Self-Management initiative. The program links the City of Komagane with Showa Inan General Hospital to help stroke patients better manage their health to prevent a recurrence. Skilled professionals work with patients and their families at the hospital, engaging them in setting and managing their own health goals, providing an app to monitor their daily condition, and consulting with them for the first year following discharge.  Dr Shinsuke Muraoka, Head of the Showa Inan General Hospital, highlighted the success of the program, explaining that since the program was launched, the first year recurrence of strokes has significantly dropped.

After congratulating the City of Komagane and the Showa Inan General Hospital, Prof Nishimura stated ‘The project’s success relied on close collaboration between the municipality, the local hospital, and the patients themselves, as well as the patient’s personal physician and family. This collaboration was one of the aspects of the project that most impressed the committee, and I think it is particularly relevant during a crisis like the current pandemic that also requires cooperation between the local government, medical institutions and professionals, and the community itself. We were also impressed by the potential this innovation has to spread the concept of self-management support’.

Seven organizations received accolades as the Second Prize winners. The organizations included (1) Beung Yi Tho Municipality in Thailand, (2) Grundtvig.inc in Japan, (3) Help Without Frontiers Foundation; forOldy Project in Thailand, (4) Indonesia Ramah Lansia (IRL Foundation) in Indonesia), (5) Korea Association of Senior Welfare Centers in South Korea, (6) SmartPeep in Malaysia, and (7) Vietnam Association of the Elderly in Viet Nam.

HAPI’s presence comes at a pivotal time as Asia faces unprecedented demographic changes. The pace of demographic shift in Asian countries is expected to happen much more rapidly than European countries or the United States whose population has got aged taking much longer time. This trajectory is massively different than in Europe and the United States who underwent a similar shift over the course of several generations. East and Southeast Asia are expected to be home to 557 million people aged 65 or over by 2050 – nearly double today’s number. These rapid changes will have tremendous social and economic implications for the affected countries and Asia as a region, giving way to both challenges and unparalleled opportunities. ERIA, JCIE, and AHWIN are committed to the promotion of healthy aging in Asia and to fostering vibrant and healthy societies where people can enjoy long and productive lives. In doing so, Asia is able to develop a sustainable and self-reliant health care systems while contributing to the region’s sustainable and equitable development and economic growth.

The Chair of the Selection Committee, Prof Keizo Takemi delivered his message to all applicants: Given that Asia is a highly diverse region with sociocultural differences and varying economic standards, there isn't a single solution for how older persons could lead happier, healthier, and more active lives. But this award has proven that multiple solutions are within reach and could come from anywhere and anyone.

In closing, Prof Tengtu Aizan expressed her great appreciation of the HAPI prize: The prize is ‘appropriate at this moment because a lot of Asian countries are trying to learn to cope with ageing populations.  By having this prize, we can share what has worked in other countries to adopt and adapt to local communities.’

Watch the Announcement Event

Learn more about the award

Press release

Click here to view the announcement on JCIE’s website.





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