17 October 2014
With the Ebola epidemic in West Africa showing no signs of being effectively contained, and the latest news of a healthcare worker infected with the Ebola virus in the United States, prospects of the deadly disease hitting Asia can no longer be excluded. Anthony Banbury, chief of the United Nations’ emergency Ebola mission has warned that the Ebola virus is “far ahead of us and every day the situation gets worse”. Against this scenario, how can Asia prepare itself?
In 2013, East Asian states through the Asean+3 framework (including China, Japan and South Korea) committed to use cooperative mechanisms to improve disease surveillance and to boost pandemic preparedness and response in the region. Lessons from the SARs outbreak in 2003 had prompted countries in East Asia to establish this regional framework for combating highly infectious pandemic outbreak. While the response is more than timely under the threat of Ebola, further commitments and actions , increased financing, vigilance in disease surveillance and using mobile health infrastructure , are critical steps to prevent an Ebola outbreak in the region. Moreover, East Asia’s contribution to boost the supply of qualified health workers in West Africa can go a long way in checking the spread of the Ebola epidemic beyond West Africa.
… Mely Caballero–Anthony is Associate Professor and head of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore. Gianna Gayle Herrera Amul is senior analyst with the RSIS Centre for NTS Studies.
GPO / NTS Centre / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 17/10/2014