The Philippines actively participated and prominently figured in the recent Asean virtual (online) forum on best response practices against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) Office of Asean Affairs Assistant Secretary Junever M. Mahilum-Wes led the Philippine delegation to the 4th Meeting of the Asean Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies (ACCWG-PHE), and the East Asia Summit (EAS) Experts’ Meeting on Covid-19, held consecutively last October 14.
The meetings featured exchange of knowledge and best practices in pandemic control, response, and recovery with other Asean member states and other external partners through Asean-led mechanisms.
DFA said the ACCWG-PHE is tasked to coordinate the Asean’s collective response to the Covid-19 and is responsible for cross-cutting initiatives that bridge existing strategies across the Asean.
The forum discussed the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which is expected to be adopted at the 37th Asean Summit scheduled next month. It also discussed progress in other key Asean initiatives, such as the Standard Operating Procedures on Public Health Emergencies, the operationalization of the Covid-19 Asean Response Fund and the Asean Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS) for Public Health Emergencies, and the creation of an Asean Travel Corridor Arrangement.
The Asean pandemic recovery efforts are directed at jumpstarting economic and social recovery in the region through free trade, gradual reopening of tourism and travel activities, and strengthening of preparedness for future pandemics.
Mahilum-West said the EAS Experts’ Meeting, an initiative by Indonesia and Vietnam and co-sponsored by Russia and China, expanded the discussion on key Asean initiatives in the Covid-19 response beyond the 10 Asean member states, including EAS participating countries – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United States, and Russia.
He said the experts discussed ongoing vaccine research and development, with some countries briefing the meeting on vaccine candidates that are at the final phases of testing and health standards evaluation.
Mahilum-West reiterated the Philippines’ appeal for the vaccine to be offered as a global public good in the interest of ensuring the health safety of all countries as reopening plans are afoot.
Other Philippine priorities in Asean recovery initiatives are green recovery, supply chain resilience, the enhanced role of women in recovery, digitization, education, sustainable development, and the integration of data science in planning to eliminate zoonotic disease.
Photo by DFA