A Feasibility Study on the Establishment of “ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases”

Proponent : ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC), Ministry of Health, Malaysia, and Ministry of Health, Viet Nam
Implementing Agency : ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) and McKinsey & Company Japan

Background

The Southeast Asia region continues to be confronted by threats of new and reemerging infectious diseases. In addition to the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the region was affected by substantial number of emerging diseases in the past decades, such as H5N1/H7N9 avian influenza, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah virus disease, H1N1 pandemic Influenza, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Febrile Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS) and Zika virus disease. These threats have varying consequences and not only endangered the lives of people but also massively affected the productivity and socio-economic conditions in all ASEAN Member States (AMS).

Despite the current approach in addressing this vulnerability, there is an increasing need for an entity to strengthen the functions of national public health agencies and promote public health and safety through control and prevention of disease, injury and disability at the regional level. The need is magnified by the current nature of diseases and their transmission, the proximity of AMS to each other as well as inter- and intra- regional movement of people. Leveraging on the existing mechanisms under the ASEAN Health Sector in responding to all hazards and emerging threats, notably the ASEAN Emergency Operation Centre (ASEAN EOC) Network and other project components of the Mitigation of Biological Threats (MBT) Programme, that responded to the COVID-19 threat in early 2020, the ASEAN Health Sector with the support from Government of Japan initiated a project to conduct A Feasibility Study on the Establishment of “ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases” 1 which aims to assess the practicality of the proposed institution and provide key recommendations that will serve as inputs to strategic decision making at the regional level.

What is the project aiming for?

The project will provide the baseline information and references for strategic decision making for the establishment of “ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases” through the following outputs:

  • Inception report that presents the plan of actions and timeline;
  • Feasibility study report that covers financial, organizational and technical feasibility; and
  • Key recommendations that covers options of the function, host country, mechanism and other recommendations based on the findings from feasibility study.

Prime Minister Abe stated that nations must confront this virus spreading infection across borders through solid cooperation, such as by establishing an ASEAN Centre for emerging diseases and public health emergencies (tentative), and supported by participating countries.

Special ASEAN Plus Three (Japan-China-ROK) Summit
on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
14 April 2020

The project contributes to the ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda specifically under ASEAN Health Cluster 2 on Responding to All Hazards and Emerging Threats to provide attention a regional concern and aptly respond to all hazards and emerging threats. Following the agreed project timeline, inception report was produced in June 2020.

As of 31 August 2020

1Article on ASEAN-Japan Cooperation in the Age of Pandemics is available for download on The ASEAN Magazine – Issue 3, July 2020, page 31.

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