BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, 11 September 2017 – Past challenges met by ASEAN Plus Three (APT) health countries around emerging infectious diseases have made the APT partnerships stronger and resilient. This was highlighted by Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Zulkarnain Bin Haji Hanafi, Minister of Health, Brunei Darussalam and Chair of the 7th ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers Meeting (APTHMM).

He further mentioned the significant progress of the APT health cooperation in areas such as ageing, disaster health management, universal and health coverage and around pandemic preparedness and response which resulted into successful programmes such as the APT Field Epidemiology Training Network and the APT Partnership Laboratories. The health ministers and heads of delegations reaffirmed their commitment to these priorities in the adopted 7th APTHMM Joint Statement.

The 7th APTHMM Roundtable Discussion tackled the theme “Improving Health Throughout the Life Course.”  Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, mentioned that “…improving health throughout the life course should be discussed from the critical paradigm of prevention. We need the new paradigm on the ‘culture of prevention’ in advocating for a culture of health.”

The meeting agreed on priority areas of collaboration with the People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea for 2017-2018.  These included universal health coverage; information communication technology for health care; noncommunicable diseases; traditional medicine; active ageing; human resources for health; responding to communicable and emerging health threats; antimicrobial resistance; ending all forms of malnutrition; food safety and disaster health management.

In his closing remarks, the Health Minister of Brunei stated that “…there are no simple solutions to the issues that we discussed, and how we rise to the challenges and opportunities that lie before us will determine if our partnership in ASEAN Plus Three Health Cooperation remain relevant and future proof. Given the complexity of the challenge, let us think big, but most importantly, we must start somewhere.”