Boost for health cooperation at ASEAN meeting

Izah Azahari

The 14th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings convened in Siem Reap, Cambodia on August 29 – 30 among others intended to further strengthen health cooperation between ASEAN member states as well as cooperation with dialogue and development partners. Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar represented Brunei Darussalam at the meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Tea Banh as Cambodia’s representative officiated the meeting held on August 29 began with an ASEAN Health Ministers retreat session to discuss the ASEAN Effort in Combating Substandard and Falsified Medicines.

Themed ‘Accelerating Health for All in ASEAN’, the meeting aimed to provide an important foundation for strategic discussions on the direction and areas of health priority that needs attention in the ASEAN region.

The ASEAN Health Ministers also agreed to pass a joint statement highlighting the agreement on several matters.

These include continuing the implementation of the ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda along with taking full advantage of it, and developing work programmes and project initiatives for 2021-2025 based on the performance of work programmes from 2016-2020. Also included were committing to promoting the health of the elderly by strengthening cooperation with various sectors through national and international initiatives; promoting actions to prevent and control non-communicable diseases and to carry out activities related to infectious diseases; implementation of action plans on disaster management and humanitarian assistance; committing to full declaration of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and also addressing issues of substandard and counterfeit medical products; collaborating on ensuring food security; and strengthening basic healthcare were the other matters.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar in a group photo with ASEAN counterparts.
PHOTO: MINISTRY OF HEALTH

The ASEAN Health Ministers also signed an Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Active Ageing Innovation (ACAI) to set up the ASEAN Centre for Active Ageing and Innovation which will be located and operating in Thailand.

The meeting was followed by the 8th ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers Meeting and 7th ASEAN-China Health Ministers Meeting yesterday.

The 8th ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers Meeting discussed the increasing health cooperation between ASEAN and the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and Japan, including cooperation on addressing infectious diseases, universal health coverage (UHC) and Maternal Health – Mother and Children.

The 7th ASEAN-China Health Ministers Meeting discussed the development of healthcare cooperation between the ASEAN region and the People’s Republic of China which includes interventions on promoting healthy living; prevention of infectious diseases including tuberculosis, dengue, HIV/AIDS; and traditional and complementary medicine.

Also discussed during the meeting was the innovation for enhancing quality of services.

The Minister of Health also held bilateral talks with the Minister of Health of Cambodia Professor Mam Bunheng to discuss and exchange views on the health sector in their respective countries and to review the implementation of health cooperation between the two countries.