JAKARTA, 7 April 2020 – ASEAN’s Health Ministers convened through a video conference to intensify regional cooperation with various stakeholders as member states step-up measures to control the spread and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (AHMM) Chair – Indonesia held the video conference which was participated in by ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi and officials from the WHO Regional Offices for Southeast Asia and Western Pacific who provided global and regional updates on the pandemic. The Secretary-General apprised them on the response measures taken by ASEAN’s non-health sectors.

At the video conference, the health ministers shared information on the latest national situation; the strategies to control the outbreak; and the challenges they are confronted with. They also shared key measures taken by ASEAN Member States (AMS) to work together as the individual countries and the region respond to the current and next phase of the pandemic.

Furthermore, participants also recognised the cooperation of Dialogue and Development Partners and other stakeholders, at national and regional levels, and reaffirmed ASEAN’s commitment to continuously work with them in fortifying preparedness and response mechanisms to address future threats.

At the conclusion of the video conference, participants resolved to enhance collective responses through:

  1. Further strengthening regional cooperation on risk communication to avert misinformation and fake news;
  2. Continue sharing information, research and studies in an open, real-time and transparent way;
  3. Coordinating cross-border health responses; scaling-up the use of digital technology and artificial intelligence for efficient information exchanges;
  4. Strengthening and institutionalising preparedness, surveillance, prevention, detection and response mechanisms of ASEAN with other partners.

After overcoming the pandemic, the ASEAN Health Sector is committed to work together to implement regional mechanisms that will further protect the peoples of ASEAN from the threats of future pandemics.

As the video conference was held on World Health Day, participants paid tribute and expressed their condolences to frontline health workers and other service-oriented personnel in ASEAN who lost their lives in caring for those infected by the virus.

They also commended the tireless efforts of AMS senior health officials and technical experts who had been driving and sustaining the regional cooperation mechanisms since December 2019, together with health counterparts from China, Japan and Republic of Korea and with the support of the ASEAN Secretariat.

Later that afternoon, the health ministers reconvened with their counterparts from China, Japan and ROK to further discuss and agree on measures to enhance cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full text of the Joint Statement can be accessed here.

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