Health ministers from all 10 Asean member states on Friday expressed their joint commitment to increase public health protection measures and address challenges in the health sector to improve welfare for people of all ages in their respective countries and the region after a two-day meeting in Siem Reap province.
The commitment was made at the 14th Asean Health Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings held on Thursday and Friday. The 10 Asean countries are Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
A joint statement issued on Friday stated that all the Asean countries are committed to meeting goals under the theme “Together Towards a Healthy ASEAN” mooted during the 2017 ministerial meeting in Brunei.
The ministers also reiterated their commitment to meet goals of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed upon during the UN General Assembly in 2015.
The UN goals include ensuring healthy lives and promoting welfare for people of all ages.
The joint statement said Asean health ministers will continue the mission together to achieve these goals through the fight against counterfeit and substandard medicines, antibiotic resistance, improving the health of the elderly, ensuring food safety, increasing non-communicable disease prevention and control measures, and preparedness to prevent and respond to diseases, including public health emergencies.
“We agree to make further efforts for effective cooperation and the implementation of continuous action for preparedness in prevention, research and response to new diseases, epidemics, infectious diseases, and public health emergencies or health effects of various disasters and health security threats,” it noted. “We still continue to strengthen primary health care to achieve global health coverage among Asean member states and ensure the sufficient supply of essential medicines on time, and intervention on health issues effectively,” the statement added.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Friday that during the meeting, the ministers discussed four key topics, which were combating counterfeit and substandard medicines; ensuring healthcare financing; strengthening the capacity to implement international health regulations; and innovations to strengthen healthcare.
“The Asean health ministers recognised that counterfeit and substandard medicines affect public health, and this challenge can be addressed through market monitoring activities, the use of technology, education of the public and patients, strengthening the national regulatory authorities, strengthening cooperation between private and public institutions, and the laboratory networks in the region to prevent the supply of counterfeit and substandard medicines together,” Ms Vandine noted.
She added that Cambodia will also raise the inclusion of the agenda on fighting against counterfeit and substandard medicines at the Asia-Europe Summit in 2020, because these medicines seriously impact public health and the issue needs to be addressed domestically, regionally and globally.