The emergence of regional and global health epidemics - including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, avian influenza and H1N1 influenza - has highlighted the impact that threats to public health can have on a broad range of sectors including agriculture, trade, tourism, transportation and business. APEC's leadership in the region and its wide-ranging economic work programmes make it uniquely suited to address the multi-sectoral impact of today's health threats.
In October 2003 APEC established the Health Task Force (HTF) to address health-related threats to economies' trade and security, focusing mainly on emerging infectious diseases, including naturally occurring and man-made diseases. In 2007, as a result of a review of the APEC fora, the HTF was upgraded in status to become the Health Working Group (HWG).
In 2010, a new Terms of Reference (TOR) for the SOM Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE) was endorsed by APEC Senior Officials. The mandated work areas of the HWG include:
- Coordinate and supervise the HWG and provide policy guidance on the Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH) agenda;
- Assess and direct realignment of work plans of the HWG with the APEC-wide medium-term ECOTECH Priorities and annual objectives as outlined in the ECOTECH framework;
- Approve and rank all ECOTECH-related projects proposals ahead of presentation to the BMC;
- Evaluate the progress of the HWG in implementing and achieving APEC's ECOTECH priorities;
- Compile progress and evaluation reports of the HWG for review and report to Senior Officials; and
- Review the role and operations of the HWG, with a view to making recommendations to Senior Officials on establishing merging, disbanding or reorienting this body.
To respond to the recommendations of the SCE, the first HWG and Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) joint meeting was held in March 2011 in Washington DC, the United States with a purpose of exploring possible cooperation areas. The second HWG-LSIF joint event on Health & the Economy: “Investing in a Healthy Life Course” was held in Saint Petersburg, Russia on June 27, 2012. The Third HWG-LSIF joint meeting on Health and the Economy is scheduled to be held in Bali, Indonesia in September, 2013.
- Current Activities
The first HWG meeting in 2013 was held in Surabaya, Indonesia on April 11-12. Both the Emergency Preparedness Working Group and the ASEAN Secretariat were invited to deliver presentations at the HWG meeting to promote synergies in health.
Back to back with the HWG meeting, a "Health Policy Dialogue on Getting to Zero on HIV and AIDS to Support Sustainable Growth in the Asia Pacific Region" was held. Recommendations were made to be sent to APEC Ministers for endorsement.
The 2nd HWG meeting in 2013 will be held in Medan, Indonesia at SOM 3. The HWG-LSIG High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy will be held in Bali, Indonesia in September 2013.
2012 and 2011 Activities
In 2012, two HWG meetings were held in Moscow in February and in St. Petersburg in June. During the meetings, the HWG members reviewed their 2012 work plan and adopted the new initiative proposed by Russia on raising the standard of maternal and child welfare.
In September 2011, the HWG met at the margins of the third Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM3) in San Francisco, the United States.
Co-hosted by the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) and the HWG, the APEC Health Systems Innovation Dialogue was held on 16-17 September. APEC health ministers – including Brunei; Hong Kong, China; Malaysia; Philippines; and Chinese Taipei – and other high-level officials met at this two day dialogue. APEC’s leading academics and health industry CEOs also convened to build relationships and to make chronic disease prevention a global priority.
Participants discussed the importance of innovation, multi-sectoral collaboration, and public-private sector partnerships to develop and implement an APEC Action Plan to Reduce the Economic Burden of Non-Communicable Disease. The Action Plan requires APEC economies to:
- Adopt approaches to policy development that involve all government agencies and health stakeholders;
- Establish public-private partnerships focused on leveraging innovations to strengthen health systems to meet the chronic disease challenge; and
- Share best practices and track outcomes on chronic disease prevention, detection, and control activities.
Speaking at the dialogue, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, summarized the forum’s support for innovative and collaborative responses to mounting chronic disease challenges in this report.
The APEC Action Plan on the Prevention and Response to Avian and Influenza Pandemics was developed in 2006 by the HTF. The Plan was endorsed at a special APEC Ministerial Meeting on Avian and Influenza Pandemics held in Da Nang, Viet Nam in May 2006. Other guidelines on pandemics and HIV/AIDS were also developed - namely, the APEC Functioning Economies in Times of Pandemic Guidelines and the Guidelines for Creating an Enabling Environment for Employers to Implement Effective Workplace Practice for People Living with HIV/AIDS.
In addition, APEC Leaders have agreed to support the sharing of influenza specimens in a timely manner and to promote transparent, fair and equitable access to vaccines and other benefits that derive from them.
At the HWG's main meeting in August 2009, members supported the strengthening of cooperation with ASEAN, with a view to sharing information on regional experiences and initiatives. ASEAN representatives were invited to attend HWG meeting activities going forward and HWG members will endeavour to attend ASEAN meetings when invited.
In the 2009 APEC Leaders' Declaration, Leaders reaffirmed to build up the ability of regional avian influenza and other potential emergency and sub-emergency disease such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. Leaders also emphasised strengthening the region's health systems and cooperation to prevent and control emerging infectious diseases.
In 2010, a new Framework to Guide ECOTECH Activities was put in place to guide the work of the HWG. "Human Security" was identified as one of the medium-term priorities for all APEC economies to work towards. The medium-term priorities will be reviewed again by 2015.
In February 2012, the HWG initiative on improving maternal and child welfare across the APEC region will be carried out in 2012, focusing on protecting women’s health and lowering infant mortality rates.
In June 2012, a High Level Dialogue on Health and the Economy was held in St. Petersburg, Russia. HWG members acknowledged that health is an economic asset that should be preserved and enhanced to drive sustainable economic growth.
In April 2013, a “Health Policy Dialogue on Getting to Zero on HIV and AIDS to Support Sustainable Growth in the Asia Pacific Region” was held in Surabaya, Indonesia. Some recommendations were made to be sent to the APEC Ministers for endorsement.
Dr Svetlana AXELROD (Ms)
Unit Department of International Cooperation,
Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation.
Russia, Moscow, 129994, Rakhmanovski per., 3
Tel: +7 495 628 8844
Fax: +7 495 694 0212
Dr Nikolay КRAVTSOV (Ms)
Chair’s Special Assistant
Ph D, Head specialist
Department for International Cooperation
Ministry of Public Health and Social Development of Russia
127994, GSP-4, Russia, Moscow, Rakhmanovsky per.3
Tel: + 7 (495) 627 2899 (office)
+ 7 (985) 226 2459 (mobile)
Fax: +7 (495) 692 4217
Steve CHEN (Mr)