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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    4 July 2012

Asean Health Ministers gather in Phuket


The Thailand Ministry of Public Health is hosting the 11th ASEAN Health Minister Meetings (11th AHMM) and related meetings from 2-6 July 2012 in Phuket. Joined by 13 countries, the meeting this year emphasizes five main topics, namely: global severe problem on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases Control and

Prevention; Building Universal Health Coverage; Tobacco Control; AIDS in Urban area; and Emergency Disaster Management.

The following main topics will be discussed in three main meetings: 1) ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (AHMM) of 10 ASEAN Member States; 2) the 5th ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan, and South Korea) Health Ministers Meeting; and 3) the 4th ASEAN Plus China Health Ministers Meeting.

H.E. Mr. Wittaya Buranasiri, Minister of Public Health, stated that the theme this year would be “ASEAN Community 2015: Opportunities and Challenges to Health.” The series of meetings aim to seek strategies to increase positive and reduce negative health effects that could happen after the implementation of ASEAN Community, including the cooperation with China, Japan, and South Korea.

Dr. Paijit Warachit, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, advised that the meeting will consist of two parts; the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and the AHMM. Recommendations from SOM will be considered and endorsed to be assigned as ASEAN policies to solve prioritised public health issues.

“There will also be a Retreat Session among 10 ASEAN Health Ministers to make acquaintances for future informal communication channel,” said Dr. Suwit Wibulpolprasert, Senior Advisor on Disease Control. The session will be held in three small groups discussing the issues of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD): diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart disease, which are ASEAN and world’s major problems.

Dr. Sopon Mekthon, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, stated that aside from meetings about policies, there will be side meetings of professionals and academics on crucial issues such as: Field Epidemiology Training Network of ASEAN plus Three, universal health coverage for the success of universal health coverage system building in ASEAN, and an AIDS problem-solving meeting to achieve 3 ASEAN Declaration of Commitments: Getting to Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination, and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths.

Expected participants of these meetings include: Health Ministers, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, executive staff, and high level academics from ASEAN Member States plus China, Japan, and South Korea.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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