ASEAN Integration will affect the health and well-being of the peoples in ASEAN.
This was the statement of Dr. Ramon Lorenzo Luis R. Guinto during the Mabini Dialogue Series of the Institute’s Center for International Relations and Studies (CIRSS) at the Special Envoy Carlos Chan Room on 15 April 2015.
Dr. Guinto, who is one of the convenors of the ASEAN Youth Dialogues which raise critical awareness about ASEAN economic integration among the youth, set the tone of the forum by emphasizing the holistic approach to the concept of health. Citing declarations such as the Alma Ata Declaration and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said health policies should concern governments as a whole and should not only be limited to the health sector.
Present health challenges such as emerging infectious diseases, climate change, non-communicable diseases, neglected tropical diseases, and impoverishment due to catastrophic health spending were identified as some of the health challenges experienced globally. These challenges transcend national boundaries and need to be addressed at a global scale, according to Dr. Guinto.
As Southeast Asia is composed of economies with varying levels of development, the region could also be considered as a “microcosm of global health.” In ASEAN, health policies such as access to health care, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and improving capability to control communicable diseases are included in the socio-cultural blueprint. However, Dr. Guinto stated that all three blueprints of ASEAN Integration—economic, political-security, and socio-cultural—will affect health.
Dr. Guinto also underlined the importance of the role of foreign policy in promoting health. Global Health Diplomacy as the nexus of foreign policy and health is gaining ground around the world, including our neighbors such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Also, countries such as the United States have already established an Office of Global Health Diplomacy, underpinning the important role of diplomacy in promoting health.