Jakarta. World-renowned cardiologist Dr. Victor J. Dzau visited Jakarta on Thursday (31/05) to pave the way for a policy discussion on aging and discuss joint research with the Indonesian government.
Dzau, who is president of the National Academy of Medicine at the United States National Academy of Sciences, held discussions with Health Minister Nila Djuwita F. Moeloek, Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nazir and Fahmi Idris, president director of the National Health Insurance Agency (BPJS).
Dzau said average life expectancy across the globe has almost doubled over the past 100 years and the issue today is therefore no longer longevity, but the number of years a person can live a healthy life.
Average life expectancy in Indonesia has risen to 71 years currently from only 45 years in the 1970s. Indonesia has the fifth-largest elderly population in the world, with about 21 million people having reached retirement age in 2012. The government estimates that Indonesia will be home to 29 million elderly people in 2020.
The government has started to implement a strategy preparing for an aging population, focusing on welfare, health care and a sustained role in the labor market and economy for elderly Indonesians.
During a discussion with Minister Nila, Dzau encouraged greater dialogue to address the issue with concrete policies.
Nila and Dzau agreed that community involvement and advanced medical technology are essential to support efforts aimed at ensuring a healthy and productive aging population.
Dzau also welcomed the prospect of joint exploratory research by the National Academy of Medicine and a consortium of top Indonesian universities on genomics, bioengineering and advanced molecular biology. The offer to collaborate is in line with a major push by the Ministry of Technology, Research and Higher Education in advancing scientific, technological, engineering and medical research in the country.
Dzau’s discussions with the BPJS’s Fahmi Idris also resulted in the possibility of the United States and Indonesia sharing experiences and exchanging ideas in developing universal health care that is not only efficient, but also sustainable and meets the needs of an aging population.
The Chinese-born American cardiologist also paid a visit to Pelita Harapan University (UPH) where he met with the institution’s founder and chairman, James Riady, before attending a graduation ceremony at the UPH Teachers College.
Dzau is one of the world’s preeminent health scientists through his seminal research in cardiovascular medicine and genetics. His work on the renin angiotensin system paved the way for the contemporary understanding of cardiovascular disease and the development of inhibitors now widely used in lifesaving drugs.
His recent work on paracrine mechanisms in stem cells and the use of microRNA in direct reprogramming provides novel insight into stem-cell biology and regenerative medicine.
Dzau has received numerous awards and accolades for his work from several prestigious institutions around the world. Among his top honors are the Gustav Nylin Medal from the Swedish Royal College of Medicine; Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Heart Association; Ellis Island Medal of Honor and Henry Freisen International Prize.
He is the eighth president of the National Academy of Medicine and held various other positions, including chancellor of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; chairman of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts; and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University in California.
He also served on the World Economic Forum’s board of health governors and chaired the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Personalized and Precision Medicine.