NU GSPP WEBINAR WITH Dr. Phua Kai Hong: “Social and Economic Implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic”


On November 23, 2021, Dr. Phua Kai Hong, the NU GSPP Visiting Professor talked about “Social and Economic Implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic” based on his research papers:

Phua KH and Nodzenki M, “Global Health: Infectious Disease Pandemics from the Asian Perspective”

Paper presented at the Trilateral Commission, Seoul 2015,

Published as chapter in Global Health Challenges, (eds) Julio Frenk, Louise O Fresca, Phua Kai Hong and Pablo Kuri-Morales, Washington DC: Brookings, 2016

This report marks the first of what is expected to be a series of assessments of various global health problems, and this first effort begins with the conceptualization of health as a global issue. It explores the relationship between health and economic growth, trade, innovation, global security and global governance. It focuses in particular on infectious diseases as a significant global health challenge, and looks to the origin, causes, and effectiveness of various interventions employed for different epidemics. In evaluating the global response to pandemics, it looks at each in terms of the viability and effectiveness of regional and cross-border collaboration to deploy health care systems, surveillance, lab testing, communication, and human resources and equipment.


Phua KH, “Covid-19 poses challenges in financing”, Straits Times, 27 May 2020

Almost all countries have traditionally depended on taxation as the main sources of financing public health services, especially for infectious disease programmes. However, the rising cost of care for an ageing population led some governments to introduce means of cost-sharing, pre-payment and alternative methods of financing. It seems like Covid-19 has thrown a spanner in the works of that trend, putting the vulnerabilities of health systems into sharp relief. Financing healthcare systems amid a pandemic is raising many challenges for governments. This is especially so as various systems in the region have innovated with health reforms which have included increasing private financing, corporatising health and hospital care, and contracting-out services to the private sector. With these attempts at privatisation and cost-containment, many contentious issues of affordability, social solidarity and the role of the state have been raised. However, one consolation is that Singapore’s public-private model of mandatory personal savings – especially regarding healthcare – and high national savings makes us more ready than most to face the pandemic.



PHUA Kai Hong is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies and held a previous professorship at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He is currently Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, Nazarbayev University. He has taught health management and social policy, health economics and global health in the various programs in public policy. He was Associate Professor and Head, Health Services Research at the NUS Department of Community, Occupational & Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine. He graduated with honors cum laude at Harvard University and received graduate degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health (Master in Health Services Administration & Population Sciences) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (PhD in Social Administration, specializing in Health Economics). He was the recipient of a Harvard College Scholarship, the Sigma Scholarship from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and the National University of Singapore Overseas Graduate Scholarship. He delivered the 2012 ST Lee Lecture at Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney and the Australian National University. Dr Phua has produced over 200 publications and papers in the field of health policy & management and related areas, including the history of health services, population ageing, health economics & financing.