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KF-SIF Virtual Dialogue

Date 2020-06-23 Event period 2020-06-09 ~ 2020-06-09 Read 34
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KF-SIF Virtual Dialogue
On June 9, the Korea Foundation and the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) co-hosted the KF-SIF Virtual Dialogue. This event, the fifth session in the KF Virtual Dialogue Series, was held under the theme of “Public-Private Partnerships in the Fight against COVID-19.”

The KF-SIF session was moderated by Erik Mobrand, associate professor at the Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University. Speakers included Kwon Soonman, professor at the School of Public Health, Seoul National University; Lee Dae Joong, Director of the Development Finance Division, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Republic of Korea; Teo Yik Ying, professor and dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore; and Hoe Nam Leong, infectious diseases specialist at Rophi Clinic, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Singapore.

According to Prof. Kwon, preparedness and flexibility have been the defining characteristics of South Korea’s response to COVID-19. After the 2015 MERS outbreak, South Korea reorganized the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve efficiency and strengthen cooperation between the central and local governments. During the coronavirus pandemic, the Korean government also adopted a patient classification system and opened residential treatment centers. Prof. Kwon added that close partnership between public and private actors helped South Korea to flatten the coronavirus curve after the initial outbreak. Private health service providers played a crucial role, taking up more than 90 percent of patient diagnoses and treatments.

Discussing the case of Singapore, Dean Teo Yik Ying explained the three major principles in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: first, the aggressive implementation of “find-trace-test-isolate” measures; second, cooperation among the government, academia, and scientists; and third, the government’s two-way communications with stakeholders. Experts in the field filed weekly policy reports based on the most recent scientific literature from around the world, and shared these reports with all policy makers. Singapore’s National Center for Infectious Disease, which opened after the SARS outbreak in 2003, was also actively involved in policy implementation. In addition, the national government cooperated closely with individual physicians and established the Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC), the foundation for the fight against COVID-19 in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Director Lee said that cooperation between government, the private sector, and civil society played an important role in containing the novel coronavirus in South Korea. Private companies developed coronavirus test kits based on information provided by the government, and offered information on locations that had face masks in stock via cell phone applications. The Korean government opened its facilities to health care providers, and provided real-time contact tracing information to citizens. Director Lee mentioned that the dedication of hospitals and medical professionals, combined with the active participation of Korea’s citizens, made it possible to offer wide-ranging treatment and stop the spread of COVID-19.

The director also introduced the South Korean government’s economic response measures, which were characterized by efforts to protect the underprivileged classes and businesses through financial assistance, preserving economic flexibility. Recovery efforts prioritized support for vulnerable industries. such as aviation and tourism, and preparation for the post-COVID-19 world through preemptive investment measures, such as a Korean version of the New Deal, with a focus on digital and green projects.

Infectious diseases specialist Hoe Nam Leong considered cooperation between the government and the private sector to be pivotally important in the face of the new challenges posed by COVID-19, including asymptomatic transmission, shortages of face masks, and a large number of cases among migrant workers.

Additionally, he explained that, in Singapore, individual physicians and private medical groups provided medical services at residential treatment centers, and emphasized that the PHPC (established as a result of Singapore’s experience with the SARS and H1N1 outbreaks) along with the participation of 949 primary care clinics made it possible to offer low-cost treatment to the public with support from the government. He mentioned several examples of public-private partnerships, including Singapore Airlines reassigning flight attendants to care for patients and offer guide services at metro stations, and YouTube stars sharing the Singaporean Prime Minister’s message.

The KF-SIF Virtual Dialogue was live streamed on YouTube and counted 465 views. Those who missed the event can watch a recording on the Korea Foundation’s YouTube channel. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajB7bW3WZXo)

The final session of the KF Virtual Dialogue Series will be held online on the Korea Foundation’s YouTube channel, on June 17 at 17:00 p.m. KST.

Thank you in advance for your continued support for this online webinar series.
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