10th AEGCD calls for cooperation in combatting emerging diseases

National 2 minutes, 5 seconds


HEALTH representatives from ASEAN countries are in Brunei this week to discuss on the prevention and control of communicable diseases and emerging infectious diseases in the region.

The delegates converged at the opening of the 10th Meeting of the ASEAN Expert Group on Communicable Diseases (AEGCD) at the Rizqun International in Gadong.

Hosted by the Ministry of Health (MoH), the three-day meeting will focus on updates from each member countries on their respective local health issues as well as discuss on action plans for the future.

The opening ceremony was officiated yesterday by the Director General of Health Services, Pg Dr Hj Khalifah Pg Ismail, who is also the chairman of the meeting.

In his welcoming remarks, Pg Dr Hj Khalifah emphasised several efforts that need to be taken into account.

He said that despite decades of economic growth, development and implementation of policies and interventions to prevent and control communicable diseases, many countries in this region still have a high burden of communicable disease.

“Potentially preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV and dengue continue to pose a threat to the health of our people and the wellbeing and economic development of our communities,” he added.

He also revealed that over the past 15 years, the region had experienced various communicable diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), H1N1 influenza and recently the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which affected South Korea.

“If a country like South Korea with a well-developed and resilient health system can experience an emerging infectious disease outbreak of this magnitude, then all our countries must be prepared to respond to these threats," he added.

He went on to say that regional prevention could be achieved through coordination and consistent efforts in all countries concerned.

“By collaborating effectively and implementing agreed strategies, we can save lives and make a real difference,” he said.

“The ASEAN region must continue to prioritise the training and continuous professional development of epidemiologists and public health professionals in our countries,” he said.

The chairman also urged the ASEAN countries to work together to overcome the challenges as well as to develop ways to address the outbreaks of infectious diseases.

“Communicable disease prevention and control cannot be seen to operate in a silo but must be integrated into wider health and social development strategies,” he said.

Yesterday’s meeting saw the delegates discussed the ways forward relevant with AEGCD’s current activities for the rest of this year as well as post-2015 plans.

The Brunei Times