Finland and China swap healthcare tips in new project

September 27, 2006

Brussels, 26 Sep 2006

While China's economy makes executives around the world sit up and take notice, the world's most competitive economy - Finland - is launching a project to examine the Chinese health model. The Chinese health model is thousands of years old, a holistic combination of exercise and food. However, as China stampedes into the 21st century, so its citizens are picking up Western habits - less Tai-chi and more burger and TV.

The Healthy China project will bring experts from Finland to China to try to prevent the spread of typically Western diseases such as onset (Type II) diabetes or cardiovascular illness.

The project, coordinated by Tekes and Finpro in Finland and Shanghai's Huashan Hospital, Hudan University and key public authorities in China, has already been running for 18 months. 'So far we have mainly been assessing Chinese care models and searching for key actors for the project,' says technology expert Jaani Heinonen, Chief Representative of Tekes Shanghai..

'The idea behind the Healthy China project is to bring Finnish and Chinese expertise and technologies together,' says Dr Heinonen. The two nations plan a Finnish-Chinese Centre at the Key Lab of Health Technology of Huashan Hospital - a state-of-the-art facility using various technologies to assist in monitoring the patient's progress or status, and information technology (IT) systems to help with diagnosis.

IT systems will specialise in diagnosis, monitoring and risk management, and 'Evidence-Based Medicine Guidelines' (a system of diagnosis developed by the Finnish Medical Society, now gaining worldwide popularity) could be incorporated. 'Finnish health care know-how and tools are unique even on a global scale,' says Dr Heinonen. 'There's a lot of research, and organisations such as the National Public Health Institute and the Finnish Heart Association have done groundbreaking work in disease prevention and health promotion.'

The Centre will offer foot examinations to diabetic patients, in addition to physiotherapy and advice related to physical activity and diet. 'Our ultimate aim is to find a comprehensive business model that enables us to expand the pilot project to other sectors,' says Dr Heinonen.

However, the centre will not be solely about bringing Finnish medicine to China - the road runs in both directions. 'Integrating traditional Chinese medicine with Finnish technologies is a fascinating new area,' says Dr Heinonen.

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