JAKARTA, 30 April 2020 – ASEAN Health Ministers and the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services held a video conference on 30 April reaffirming their commitment and cooperation to stop the COVID-19 pandemic through concrete and effective measures as outlined in a joint statement that was adopted at the conclusion of the conference.

The video conference marked the first formal engagement between health ministers of ASEAN and the US, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in fighting the pandemic. The conference acknowledged the US’ humanitarian assistance in providing more than US$ 35.3 million to ASEAN Member States during the pandemic.

At the conference, participants discussed the regional public health emergency preparedness and response mechanisms which the ASEAN Health Sector has established through the ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda. The agenda enabled the sector to immediately launch a strong regional response as soon as the first reports of unexplained pneumonia were received.

The health ministers committed to work together in further strengthening these mechanisms for future public health emergencies and pandemics.

The health ministers also agreed to further invest or strengthen health systems through universal health coverage, particular primary health care and health workforce, which are strong foundations for health security.

The conference was preceded by another video conference between ASEAN and US health officials and experts held the day before. At that conference, experts exchanged national and regional situation updates on COVID-19, as well as national and regional strategies to control the pandemic.

Participants also tackled technical matters around domestic and international responses, such as screening at points of entry, risk communication, clinical management, medical counter measures including diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines, and non-pharmaceutical interventions.

The two video conferences were hosted and presided over by the Indonesian Ministry of Health – as Chair of the ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting and Senior Officials Meeting for Health Development for 2020 and 2021.

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

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