On 14 May 2022, at the 15th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (AHMM), Health Ministers and senior officials from 10 ASEAN countries participating in the event reaffirmed regional health cooperation and the future of ASEAN health sector. During this event, the two ASEAN protocols relating to public health emergencies, preparedness, and response, which were developed under the leadership of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development (SOMHD) chair, the Ministry of Health, Indonesia, were endorsed. These contribute to regional coordination of work in the implementation of public health emergency preparedness and response initiatives.
The development of these two protocols is supported by the “Strengthening Regional Initiatives in ASEAN on COVID-19 Response and other Public Health Emergencies” project.
These are the ASEAN Protocol for Cross-Border Contact Tracing and Rapid Outbreak Investigation, and the ASEAN Health Protocol for Pandemic Preventive Measures in Public Places including its operationalisation guidelines. The protocol on cross-border contact tracing aims to provide an effective communication mechanism among relevant border authorities in AMS with quality information to prevent and mitigate transmission of COVID-19 and other similar infectious diseases in the future. The Heath Protocol provides guidance for a comprehensive and integrated health measure for the safe re-opening of ASEAN to prevent and control transmission of COVID-19 in public place settings under the ASEAN comprehensive recovery framework.
The AHMM’s joint statement emphasised the importance of health cooperation in the region. “ASEAN, as a region, is an inseparable part of an interconnected global community. Therefore, building ASEAN’s health system resilience, including through applicable regional health protocols, … will contribute to the global health architecture strengthening,” reads an excerpt from the 15th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting Joint Statement. See the full joint statement here.
ASEAN acknowledges the importance of global cooperation in dealing with global crises and enhancing engagement with external development partners to bolster the current response and ensure future preparedness.
The Project “Strengthening Regional Initiatives in ASEAN on COVID-19 Response and other Public Health Emergencies” is part of the immediate COVID-19 response support programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by GIZ in collaboration with ASEAN Member States and ASEAN Secretariat through the Health Division.