Bangkok, 8 September 2022 – The Health Division of the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with GIZ Thailand hosted the Regional Consultative Meeting on Strengthening Regional Initiatives in ASEAN on the COVID-19 Response and other Public Health Emergencies in Bangkok. Joined by the ASEAN Health Cluster 2 Country Coordinators from each ASEAN Member State (AMS), the Embassy of Germany in Bangkok, the Thai Ministry of Public Health, and the GIZ-ASEAN COVID-19 Project Team, the meeting aimed to present and reflect on the outcome and achievements of the project “Strengthening Regional Initiatives in ASEAN on the COVID-19 Response and other Public Health Emergencies”, and discuss recommendations and way forward, as a contribution to the implementation of relevant ASEAN policy and strategy on public health emergency preparedness, response, and recovery in the ASEAN region beyond COVID-19.
Mr. Hans-Ulrich Suedbeck, Deputy Chief of Mission, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, said: “We have seen that the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to bring about new challenges to the world, including to both ASEAN and Germany and we recognise the need to expedite recovery and strengthen resilience beyond the pandemic through partnership. In this connection, Germany initially contributed 5 million Euro to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and provided another 800,000 Euro through the project “Strengthening Regional Initiatives in ASEAN on the COVID-19 Response and other Public Health Emergencies”. We all have learned during the past two years that Covid-19 doesn’t stop at borders. The pandemic has shown how dependent we are on each other in today’s world. We therefore focus on international cooperation and multilateral solutions to overcome the pandemic and its impact on the livelihoods of millions of people. We are pleased and proud that our contributions have helped ASEAN and ASEAN Member States increase and improve their capacity to respond to COVID-19 and to extend our partnership so as to strengthen the regional initiatives in ASEAN on public health emergencies beyond COVID-19.”
H.E. Ekkaphab Phanthavong, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community highlighted: “Building on the existing mechanism of the ASEAN Health sector, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the implementation of GIZ Thailand has scaled up and accelerated regional initiatives to respond to and recover from the effects of COVID-19. At the outset, the medical supplies and personnel protective equipment were made available to the ASEAN Member States who needed them the most due to the adverse trend of confirmed cases, mortalities, and morbidities. Further support was given to Indonesia as the lead country in the development of 2 regional protocols, namely the ASEAN Health Protocol in Public Places for Pandemic Preventive Measures, and the ASEAN Protocol on Cross Border Contact Tracing and Rapid Outbreak Investigation. These 2 protocols were then adopted by 15th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting in May 2022. To further maximise the gains in public health emergency efforts and sustain the strong relationship between the ASEAN Health sector and GIZ, the project on capacity needs assessment for the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies was initially undertaken through the lead country, Thailand. The results of this regional assessment are being utilised to develop and design a new project based on the lessons learned from this pandemic.”
Dr. Soawapak Hinjoy,Director of the Office of International Cooperation, Department of Disease Control, the representative of Thailand Ministry of Public Health, emphasised that: “We all can witness that the world had a weakness and was not well prepared for large outbreaks or pandemics. Gaps in performance and the capabilities required for fighting against COVID-19 and other pandemics are not well recognised. This kind of public health threat can have a wide range of impacts on health security and the global socio-economic system. Thailand is one of many countries receiving support from GIZ to implement the project ‘Capacity Needs Assessment on Core Public Health Emergencies, including COVID-19 among ASEAN countries. This project offers us the opportunity to explore the core capacity that needs to be strengthened to respond to public health emergencies in a more effective manner. This is one example of the valuable projects which we will be discussing during the two-day meeting,”