Ambassador Vu Ho, acting head of SOM Vietnam, made the call when addressing the 8th meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies (ACCWG-PHE) and the ASEAN Joint Consultative Meeting (JCM) which were held online on April 20 under the chair of Cambodia, the chair country of ASEAN in 2022.
The ambassador shared the lesson learnt from the pandemic regarding getting prepared for all situations, and underlined the need to enhance public awareness about disease prevention and control through diverse communication forms suitable for each group of target audience.
He also urged ASEAN health officials to actively hold discussions and consultations towards the early establishment and launch of the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED), so as to help ASEAN enhance its capacity in preventing, controlling and responding to health emergencies.
Regarding the process of ASEAN Community building, the ambassador reiterated Vietnam’s support for Chair Cambodia’s initiatives and appreciated the work of the High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on ASEAN Community's Post-2025 Vision. He asked the task force to coordinate closely with all three Community pillars and follow the set roadmap to ensure the pace and effectiveness of its work.
The Vietnamese representative also expressed a hope that following the first ASEAN high-level forum on sub-regional cooperation for sustainable development and inclusive growth hosted by Vietnam last October, the second such forum will be held this year to provide a venue for further in-depth and extensive discussion on the matter, thus contributing to the ASEAN Community building process.
The ACCWG-PHE acknowledged the positive developments in pandemic control and the re-opening policies of most ASEAN member countries. It agreed that the recovery process continued to be maintained led by agriculture, construction, production and information technology.
The meeting welcomed the initiative on building an ASEAN portal for vaccination certification to standardize the certification process and facilitate movement in the region
Participants praised commitments on contribution to the ASEAN COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund which amounted to 30 million USD so far, part of which had been disbursed to buy vaccines for member countries. Many opinions suggested continuing to use the fund to purchase vaccines, medical supplies and test kits, conduct research, and raise public awareness about epidemic prevention.
The ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS) has received commitment on contributions from Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore, and continued to call for donations from countries and partners.
The meeting urged ASEAN health officials to continue with discussion toward early reaching agreement on the establishment and operation of the ACPHEED.
Meanwhile, the JCM focused on progress in the ASEAN Community building, coordination among sectors and pillars and cooperation between the bloc and partners.
Participants agreed to intensify inter-sectoral and inter-pillar cooperation and proposed issues that need attention in the time ahead such as circular economy, carbon neutrality, blue economy, maritime security, cyber and environmental crime, and corporate social responsibility.