FIFTEEN leading Chinese scientists have visited Australia’s capital to discuss and find solutions to problems associated with an ageing population.
Delegates converged on the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra for a two-day conference earlier this week to examine ways to deal with people’s desire to live independently for longer.
The average life expectancy for both China and Australia is now around 70 years or above, leading to an increase in age related diseases such as type two diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to symposium co-chair Professor Bob Williamson this means that there will be increased pressure on our health system.
“Not only has China become a world economic power, but its population, especially in the cities, lives about as long as we do, and suffers from the same burden of chronic disease associated with ageing,” Prof Williamson said.
“It’s important to use our best scientific knowledge to help implement intervention strategies to reduce the burden of these diseases.”
The use of new techniques based on stem cells, medical bionic ears and eyes, and nanotechnology were all presented throughout the conference.
Prof Williamson said a miniature device that could enter the arteries and tell when someone was about to have a heart attack was extremely exciting.
“This helps a lot as the sooner something like a heart attack is detected the better off the patient will be,” he said.
The symposium’s co-chair said there have been four to five important collaborations between scientific organisations with heavy Chinese investment in Australian ideas.
“These collaborations allow Australian universities access to infrastructure and equipment they wouldn’t usually have access to.”
“Australia is very good at basic research and genetics, while the Chinese are good at turning this research into products.”
“Putting these elements together has been met with tremendous enthusiasm and both hardware and software have been provided by Chinese.”
Prof Williamson welcomed $10 million of Australian government funding to facilitate exchanges of scientists between universities
“Australia and China together can lead our region in providing innovative responses to this [healthcare] challenge, reducing the economic and social burden on families, communities and nations.”