Indonesia Seeks Multilateral Health Security Cooperation at 43rd ASEAN Summit

Multilateral Health Security

Indonesia’s Ministry of Health is actively exploring opportunities for multilateral cooperation in the health security sector through diplomatic efforts at the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta.

The Head of Communication and Public Service Bureau at the Ministry of Health, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, announced on Wednesday that they are in the process of exploring new avenues for collaboration in the health sector within ASEAN. The outcomes of these explorations will be made public at the conclusion of the summit.

Indonesia, serving as the chair of ASEAN in 2023, is keen on strengthening the unity of the regional bloc and its preparedness to address current and future health challenges. One of Indonesia’s key objectives is to ensure that all ASEAN member countries have easy and high-quality access to health funding.

Tarmizi outlined three pivotal aspects aimed at bolstering ASEAN’s commitment to building a resilient healthcare sector within the region:

1. Enhancing Health Infrastructure: ASEAN nations will work on increasing their health infrastructure, including supervision, research, development, and the production of vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment.

2. Human Resource Development: The region will focus on improving the skills and preparedness of healthcare professionals who can be rapidly mobilized across borders in times of need.

3. Sharing Knowledge and Resources: ASEAN members will collaborate to share knowledge, provide skills training, and prepare for future pandemics. This cooperation will also involve easy access to emergency funds.

In line with these goals, ASEAN health ministers convened last week to propose the consolidation of various funding sources for pandemic response into a single, well-managed fund. This pooled fund could then be used to address regional disparities in healthcare resources.

Tarmizi highlighted that the health resilience of ASEAN can be fortified by establishing the ASEAN Center of Public Health Emergency and Emerging Disease (ACPHEE). This center would serve as a focal point for ASEAN’s cooperation in dealing with potential health emergencies and would focus on three core pillars: surveillance, treatment, and risk management.

Several countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, have expressed their commitment to supporting these three pillars. Indonesia, specifically, will concentrate on bolstering the surveillance pillar.

The ongoing ASEAN Summit, attended by 19 state leaders, partner countries, and international organizations, presents a valuable platform for regional collaboration in health security and the strengthening of ASEAN’s healthcare capabilities.

As discussions progress, Indonesia’s role as the ASEAN chair in 2023 will play a crucial part in fostering unity and resilience within the region’s healthcare sector.

Sumann Senguptaa

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