Universal health coverage (UHC) is a key national aspiration for Japan and Thailand and both countries have generally succeeded in achieving their UHC policy goals. Health technology assessment (HTA) has been adopted to support the process of moving towards UHC. However, HTA implementation has evolved differently in Japan and Thailand on account of the inherently different healthcare systems in each country.
Given the concerns of financial sustainability in the context of an aging population in Japan, the government of Japan is in the process of establishing a new, integrated HTA system in the decision-making process. To this end, the Research Centre for Health Policy and Economics at Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study (HIAS) held a special seminar on 13 November 2017 to discuss a vision of future of HTA in Japan, a potential way forward, area of improvement through shared experiences from Thailand.
Dr. Yot Teerawattananon from the Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program (HITAP), Ministry of Public Health, Thailand was invited to give a presentation on how HTA has emerged as an important tool to set priorities for UHC or public health policies in Thailand and other countries in the Asia Pacific region. His talk was followed by a panel discussion on the theme of “Implementation of HTA in Japan and other Asian countries” among distinguished guests: Professor Isao Kamae from Health Technology Assessment and Public Policy, the University of Tokyo, Associate Professor Dr. Ataru Igarashi, from Department of Drug Policy and Management, the University of Tokyo, Mr. Kozo Watanabe from Deputy Director General of Human Development Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Dr.Yot Teerawattananon from HITAP, and Professor Motohiro Sato, the director of the Research Center for Health Policy and Economics, Hitotsubashi University, who chaired this session.
In addition, Ms. Waranya Rattanavipapong from HITAP’s International Unit presented on the Guide to Health Economic Analysis and Research (GEAR) Online Resource to the audience in order to promote the use of GEAR as a global platform in helping researcher with health economics research. GEAR has been developed by HITAP with the support of the International Decision Support Initiative (iDSI). Apart from providing an overview of the technical resource, Waranya introduced the HTAsiaLink network and its activities, including the upcoming annual conference hosted by HITAP and Mahidol University in Thailand and encouraged Hitotsubashi University to become part of the network.