Conference on ‘Pandemic Preparedness in Asia’
Date: 12th-13th January 2009
Venue: Marina Mandarin Hotel, Singapore
Click here to read the full conference report.
To date, pandemic preparedness in most, if not all, countries and regions remains incomplete (WHO, 2008). The need to act upon this statement is made more urgent by the fact that the precise timing, location and overall impact of a future pandemic remain speculative, at best, and also by the increasing complacency and so-called ‘flu-fatigue’ around the world.
This conference on Pandemic Preparedness in Asia was organised by the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies at RSIS to examine the various framings of pandemic preparedness, with the objective of stimulating thinking on the possible approaches that could be adopted by Asia. Bringing together the best medical experts and security analysts from the region and the world, the conference examined various pandemic preparedness models, identified gaps in planning, and determined pandemic preparedness indicators. The conference also involved discussions on the roles of different societal actors in the formulation of operational pandemic preparedness frameworks, and the prospects of regional cooperation. Targeted at a wide ranging audience, including security analysts, health practitioners, the business community and leaders of civil societies, the conference aimed to facilitate the creation of a holistic and comprehensive pandemic preparedness plan applicable on many scales, from local to global levels.
A session on Local Frameworks was convened in order to identify current gaps in planning, to determine indicators for evaluating the systems in place and to find ways of further improving the existing plans. Representatives from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Singapore were invited to present their respective models of pandemic preparedness. Civil society actors from Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia also spoke on the level of preparedness in their respective countries and the role that NGOs play in early-warning and surveillance.
The session on the Way Forward: Areas for Further Cooperation examined how pandemic preparedness can be improved by identifying areas for further regional and international cooperation and underlining the necessary improvements to existing preparedness plans. It was noted that the possible development of a global public health regime could improve global healthcare, especially in the developing world.
The discussions and presentations highlighted the need to identify the challenges of health and related security issues beyond pandemic preparedness, and address the issues of equity. It is everyone’s responsibility to advance pandemic preparedness and work towards a global public health regime.