This section provides a brief background of the health challenges in ASEAN, the strategic direction to resolve the complex health issues, and the mechanisms adopted to implement regional actions; and to avail of the opportunities in resolving these health challenges.
ASEAN comprises of ten Member States which form a diverse and dynamic region with fast development growth bringing a lot of health threats and challenges. Gaps continue to exist between and within the countries. In some of the countries, poverty remains the most important determinant for health status, mainly for marginalized and vulnerable groups, including those living in rural, remote and mountainous areas.
Environmental problems caused by rapid urbanization, overpopulation, air population, and industrialization cause significant change in disease pattern in the region. Non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer are more seen in most of the countries. Communicable diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis, vaccine preventable diseases remain endemic and a burden for some ASEAN Member States.
Globalization, international migration, modern transportation, and international trade all contribute the rise and spread of infectious diseases. Every year, millions of people from ASEAN region migrate to other countries, either permanently or temporarily. International migration is a major risk in large-scale pandemics.
ASEAN Vision 2020 aims to build a community of caring societies which is secure from threats of diseases and poverty and social ills. People are at the core of this vision, and people are core to its realisation. ASEAN regional cooperation in health development aims to achieve the Vision 2020 goals, by building communities for people-to-people interaction. The ASEAN Health Cooperation’s current strategic thrusts bear in mind the importance of supporting and harmonizing with the other ASEAN Community goals.
The ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (AHMM) was established in 1994 and is convened once every two years. The AHMM oversees the mandated functions of the Senior Officials on Health Development (SOMHD) and other subsidiary bodies in the public health sector.
Under the new ASEAN Secretariat Organisational Structure which has been taken into effect since 15 April 2009, the ASEAN regional cooperation in health development is overseen by the Health and Communicable Diseases Division (HCDD). This division reports to the Cross-Sectoral Cooperation Directorate of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Department. The HCDD is currently managed by an Assistant Director or Head of HCDD, one Senior Officer, two Technical Officers and one secretary.
ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), ASEAN Secretariat: ASEAN Cooperation on Health Development. 2012.