JAKARTA/CANBERRA, 29 July 2020 – Today, ASEAN and Australian health experts met online to exchange best practices on the public health response to COVID-19.
Australia was represented by Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Kelly and Australia’s Ambassador for Regional Health Security Dr Stephanie Williams.
Meanwhile, ASEAN was represented by the focal points of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting Health Development (SOMHD) led by Indonesia’s Ministry of Health Secretary General Dr Oscar Primadi as SOMHD Chair, and Lao PDR’s Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr Nao Boutta as SOMHD Vice Chair.
The ASEAN SOMHD Chair and Vice Chair were represented by the Director of Indonesia’s Health Ministry Biomedical Research Centre Dr Vivi Setiawaty,, and Deputy Director of Lao PDR’s Health Ministry Cabinet Dr Bounserth Keoprasith, respectively.
The Country Coordinators for ASEAN Health Cluster 2 on Responding to All Hazards and Emerging Threats, and contact points of the ASEAN Emergency Operations Centre Network for Public Health Emergencies participated in the meeting.
Dr Setiawaty shared the ASEAN Health Sector’s COVID-19 response measures through the mobilisation of existing cooperation mechanisms since early January 2020, aimed at reinforcing national public health responses.
She also outlined the priority and strategic directions for the ASEAN Health Sector in responding to the pandemic as guided by the ASEAN Health Ministers, which includes research and development on appropriate tools and interventions, such as vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for COVID-19.
Dr Kelly and Dr Williams shared Australia’s epidemiological experiences including transmission modelling and forecasting, standard operating procedures for public health emergencies and ongoing pandemic management strategies.
The health experts reiterated the importance they place on cooperation with each other and recognised that the region’s health security is closely intertwined.
This meeting followed the Special ASEAN-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held by video teleconference on 30 June, where Foreign Ministers agreed to enhance cooperation on health security to respond to COVID-19 and to ensure that the region is better prepared for future pandemics.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced a package worth of AU$ 23 million to help ASEAN meet the profound health security challenges posed by COVID-19 in the areas of health security, economic recovery and stability.
Building effective, practical, people-to-people cooperation has long been a key feature of the ASEAN–Australian relationship.
The health experts’ meeting built on the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit Chairman’s Statement held on 26 June, where ASEAN Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhance cooperation between ASEAN Member States and external partners in the fight against COVID-19.
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