The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region call on the public and private sectors to join forces in the fight against dengue.

As the Region commemorates ASEAN Dengue Day on 15 June, many countries in Asia and the Pacific face an increasing burden from the disease, with more cases reported in 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. Moreover, the recent trend continues to increase sharply in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Singapore, and most of the dengue endemic ASEAN countries are just entering the dengue season, with the peak still coming.

“ASEAN cannot be complacent in its efforts against dengue,” said H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN. “Dengue represents a significant economic burden on our region and hinders our development goals. The importance in addressing dengue at the regional level involving various stakeholders in a proactive and collective response cannot be overemphasized.”

Dengue is one of the fastest growing emerging infectious diseases in the world, and the Asia Pacific region bears 75% of the global burden. WHO currently estimates there are 50–100 million dengue infections worldwide every year. In the WHO Western Pacific Region, 31 out of 37 countries and areas have reported dengue cases in the past two decades.

The increase in cases and geographical expansion of affected countries can be attributed to a number of factors. These include higher temperatures and the onset of early rainfall in many parts of the Region this year, growing population densities, and greater international and local travel. There is no specific treatment for dengue and innovative approaches are needed in preventing the disease at the community level.

While improved surveillance and reporting have likely also contributed to the increase in reported cases, it nevertheless underscores the large burden that this emerging infectious disease poses for the Region.

“Dengue has a significant impact on health, the economy and the entire society, making it our shared responsibility,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “Individuals, communities, private sector and government agencies need to work together to fight dengue.”

ASEAN Dengue Day is an advocacy event held every 15 June to increase public awareness of dengue, to mobilize resources for its prevention and control, and to demonstrate the region’s commitment to tackling the disease.

The advocacy event was agreed upon during the 10th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting in 2010. The first regional event was held in 2011 in Jakarta, Indonesia, while Myanmar hosted the regional celebration in Yangon in 2012.

This year’s ASEAN Dengue Day regional commemorative programme was held in Hanoi, Viet Nam, and attended by representatives of ASEAN and international partners. The theme is: ASEAN unity for a dengue-free community.

The ASEAN Member States are comprised of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The Dengue Day activities were supported by WHO.

This is a joint media release of ASEAN and WHO.