“Our goal is to help facilitate coordinated actions and manage health challenges, including sharing best practices and discussing openly about what works and what does not work, so that we can all learn as we go," said Michael Pearson, branch head, Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio, Canada, and co-chair of the APEC Health Working Group.
Pearson made the remarks during an online meeting of APEC health officials on Monday ahead of the 10th APEC High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy on Wednesday, according to a press release from the APEC Health Working Group received here on Wednesday.
According to the WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard, there have been approximately 31 million COVID-19 infections and almost one million deaths worldwide so far.
The APEC region accounts for over 34 percent of the global COVID-19 caseload and over 36 percent of deaths. In addition, most APEC economies are currently facing second or third waves of infections.
At the meeting, Pearson highlighted the importance for APEC members to continuously strengthen cooperation and ensure health systems integration in the region in face of cross-border health threats, such as the novel coronavirus disease.
APEC health officials also discussed a multi-year strategic course of action to ensure a resilient health system in the region.
Given the dramatic impact of the pandemic, APEC members ideated on vaccination approaches and support, reiterated the importance of keeping supply chains flowing smoothly, and called for collaboration to deal with the secondary impact of the pandemic, for instance, on mental health.
“The foundation of a strong economy lies in the productivity of its workforce, which, in turn, depends on the health and fitness of its people," said Chen Chaw Min, secretary general of Malaysia’s Health Ministry, in his opening remarks at the Second APEC Health Working Group meeting.
"A good health policy is a good economic policy," Chen stressed.
At the meeting themed ‘Building a Resilient Asia-Pacific in a COVID-19 World’, health ministers and senior private sector representatives convened online on Wednesday to explore steps member economies can take to boost investments in health to drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the region.
According to a recent report by the APEC Policy Support Unit, about 20 percent of people in the APEC region are at risk of falling into extreme poverty as their healthcare burdens increase.
The report highlights the necessity for allocating more funds for public health spending so that governments can expand access to healthcare and social protection. (INE)
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