APEC gears towards healthy region

Monday, 2017-08-21 10:35:11
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Officials of the APEC Health Working Group gather in Ho Chi Minh City on August 21 (Source: VNA)
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NDO/VNA – Officials of the APEC Health Working Group gathered in Ho Chi Minh City on August 21, aiming to address a range of issues in order to build a healthy Asia-Pacific region.

In his opening remarks, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Health Le Quang Cuong highlighted health as a critical component of the economic and trade development and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Investment in health is the key to inclusive and sustainable economic growth, he said, adding that better health leads to greater wealth, which will be an essential driver for long-term economic development growth.

Cuong reviewed Vietnam’s hosting of the first Health Working Group Meeting in Nha Trang city, Khanh Hoa province, from February 23-24, with the theme of “Health system strengthening, towards sustainable development” and focusing on five priorities.

The priorities include; ensuring progress on universal health coverage in APEC economies towards a healthy Asia-Pacific by 2020, strengthening communicable disease control and antimicrobial resistance among APEC economies, an integrated approach for promoting healthy aging and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), sustainable health care finance in the transitional period and a focus on health in all policies, and multi sectorial action to achieve health in relation to sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The theme and priorities were highly appreciated and endorsed by the 21 APEC economies as they are issues of common interest that need to be strengthened further for all APEC economies in the coming year, he noted.

The second APEC Health Working Group Meeting will review the 2017 HWG Work Plan, and discuss the priorities and indicators for a healthy Asia-Pacific by 2020, as well as reviewing progress reports on the approved and on-going projects of APEC economies.

New HWG concept notes for 2018 will also be introduced at the meeting by the APEC economies.

A joint session with APEC and other international health bodies will be organised on August 22, which shows their interest and potential cooperation on health in the future.

One of the most important contents of this meeting is to discuss and agree on the draft of the paragraph of Leaders’ Declaration and Joint Statement of Ministerial Meeting, which has been developed by Vietnam.

This paragraph should be endorsed at this meeting before being submitted to the High Level Meeting for the ministers’ approval.

The paragraph should be condensed and reflect the five priorities that the first APEC Health Working Group Meeting has endorsed, Cuong said.

Speaking with reporters, Tran Thi Giang Huong, head of the International Cooperation under the Vietnamese Health Ministry, said the Health Ministry is scheduled to chair seven meetings on health-related issues, during which the relevant strategies and policies in APEC, as well as the action plans for special working groups, will be scrutinised.

The events attracted the participation of eight health ministers and five deputy health ministers of APEC economies, she added.

The seventh APEC High-Level Meeting on Health and Economy, scheduled for August 23, will take the theme of “medical financial reform for public health, looking towards SDGs,” which, Huong said, has received high appreciation from the other APEC economies.

Under the declaration, Vietnam is expected to underline the need for the APEC to increase investments in the health sector, and call on the APEC economies to joint hands in combating NCDs and tackling issues regarding an aging population and cooperation in fighting newly emerging diseases and the reoccurrence of diseases, along with focusing on health in all policies, she said.

HWG Chair Lic Rocio Cathia Casildo Canedo, Director General of the General Office for Cooperation and International Affairs under the Ministry of Health of Peru, told the Vietnam News Agency reporters that the topics Vietnam has promoted are relevant to both developed and developing APEC economies which have different health systems.

Vietnam made a good impression in the first meeting and now the country is doing a great job by suggesting improvements in the concept notes, she said.

Regarding Vietnam’s health cooperation with other APEC economies, Toru Kajiwara, Director of the Office of Global Health Cooperation under the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, emphasised the medical cooperation between Vietnam and Japan.

He said that aging population is an urgent issue for all APEC economies, including Vietnam, although the country has a young population.

“But the pace of an aging population is rapid,” he said, suggesting that the Vietnamese Government take good care of this issue and prepare effective policy measures.