The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) participated in Health Beyond Borders, a forum on ASEAN integration and its implications for the health sector organized by the ASEAN Youth Dialogues, Pre-Med Society of the Ateneo, and the Development Society, held at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), Quezon City, on 18 February 2015.
Deputy Director-General Julio S. Amador III, the main speaker, discussed ASEAN Community integration in relation to the health sector. He cited that the Blueprint of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) includes 55 health-related action lines, which include improving access to health care, ensuring food security and safety, strengthening capability to communicable diseases, and building disaster-relief nations and safer communities.
Deputy Director-General Amador also stressed how ASEAN integration creates both opportunities and challenges for the ASEAN Member States (AMS). On the one hand, the signing of several Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) provides professionals – including doctors, nurses, and other health workers – wider employment opportunities in the region. Integration can also assist in capacity-building of AMS on health matters by promoting the flow of information and exchange of expertise and best practices.
On the other hand, regional integration also poses challenges to ASEAN. These include the increased trans-boundary and transnational nature of health concerns, disparities in the capability of AMS to provide health care, and the need for better coordinated mechanisms in addressing emerging infectious diseases.
Serving as reactors during the forum were experts on different aspects of health. Ms. Ma. Rosario Barangan of ISPE Philippines discussed trends in the regional and global pharmaceutical industry. Ms. Marian Theresia Valera focused on the mobility and mutual recognition of healthcare services in the region. Dr. Andrei Coronel of ADMU talked about informatics as it applies to public health. Dr. Lorenzo Guinto, Campaigner for Health Energy Initiative and Co-founder of #Reimagine Global Health, raised the policy aspects of health in the region. Dr. Gene Nisperos of the University of the Philippines (UP) and Health Alliance for Democracy discussed the impact of health on national and regional economic development.
The forum concluded with an understanding that ASEAN integration in the health sector should be pursued in both the regional and national levels. AMS should not only enhance coordination among them, but must also strengthen and harmonize their own respective national health policies.