JAKARTA, 22 November 2016 – ASEAN is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. Between 2004 and 2014, every year on average the region suffered 354,000 disaster-related fatalities—more than half of the world’s total in that period. Economic losses from those disasters totalled an estimated of USD 91 billion.

The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) signed a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) with California-based humanitarian aid group Direct Relief to provide emergency medical supplies for ASEAN’s collective response to regional disasters. The MoI was signed in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the AHA Centre on 17 November.

“2016 is the year when the AHA Centre begun to further realise the spirit of One ASEAN One Response. This year we partner with various stakeholders from the academe, think-tank, private sector, and civil society organisations. The MoI signing with Direct Relief is one of the embodiments of this spirit and we look forward to this new partnership,” said Mr. Said Faisal, Executive Director of the AHA Centre.

The supplies coming from Direct Relief will include Emergency Health Kits as well as Emergency Medical Packs, which were developed with public health officials and emergency response professionals. The parties will explore further possibilities to conduct several activities such as prepositioning supplies in ASEAN’s three regional logistics hubs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

“The U.S. Government has long been a partner with ASEAN and its member states on disaster management and response, yet we know that the private sector and civil society add tremendous value, expertise and support to our efforts,” said Nina Hachigian, U.S .Ambassador to ASEAN.

Meanwhile, Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe said, “the AHA Centre is serving such a critical role in advancing and ensuring coordination during emergencies that regularly affect ASEAN’s member countries and their citizens, and Direct Relief is very pleased to support the prepositioning of critical supplies to enable faster response and reduce death and suffering in the wake of these events.”

Direct Relief also plans to engage in this effort the many healthcare companies with which it already works extensively and have large regional operations in ASEAN.