Ko Awatea director Jonathon Gray has a challenge for the two thousand delegates expected to converge in Sydney for APAC Forum 2016 later this year.
“How do we tackle the impossible?” Professor Gray asks. “It is about not just being good enough to tackle the hard problem, but some of the problems we face look impossible – how are we going to go about that?”
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Referring to the universal healthcare challenges of chronic disease, ageing populations and an ever stretched heath dollar, he says we are facing a tsunami and the way through it will necessarily involve technology and people who are pioneers.
He puts his fellow APAC Forum 2016 keynote speakers, Devi Shetty, Nicholas Christakis and Janine Shepherd firmly in that pioneering camp. Each, in their own way is opening up new frontiers, he says.
“I’m trying to put up the picture of how people have dealt with almost impossible challenges with enthusiasm, energy and amazing skill,” he says of his keynote address for APAC Forum 2016.
“Janine Shepherd (a former Olympic skiing contender who was partially paralysed in an accident and went on to learn to fly) is an outstanding icon of someone who came through an almost impossible situation and exceeded all reasonable expectations,” he says.
“Nicholas Christakis (Professor of Sociology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science) has shown us ways of identifying people who can make a massive difference, and Devi Shetty (cardiac surgeon and founder of Narayana Health) is successfully operating on thousands of sick children in India whose poverty would ordinarily exclude them from life saving surgery.
Professor Gray says his challenge to last year’s APAC Forum 2015, when he urged more collaborative approach, started a very important conversation. But more is needed, he hastens to note.
However, the conversation has gone global – with Professor Gray subsequently asked to speak on the topic at health improvement conferences in India, Malaysia and Singapore.
“I think this just says there’s an appetite across all the different health systems. No one claims to have solved this but I think the pendulum may have swung too far into a toxic competitive system in some situations,” he says.
Professor Gray wants APAC Forum 2016 to enable the conversation to continue.
“I hope we can distil some of the factors that will allow us to successfully tackle impossible challenges.”
He says the event’s success will be measured in the energy during the three days and beyond.
“I increasingly want to feel the APAC energy 365 days a year.”