Thursday, June 22, 2006

Malaysia Calls For Asean Cooperation In Handling Health Emergencies

KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 (Bernama) -- Malaysia has called on Asean member countries to formulate national policies for inter-country cooperation to fight against any health emergency.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, who made the call, said they should share technical expertise and promote collaboration between centres of excellence.
National laws should also be harmonised to deal with cross border issues and multi-sectoral alliances both within and between countries, he said at the 8th Asean Health Ministers Meeting in Yangon, Myanmar, Wednesday.
The text of his speech was issued to Bernama here.
He said Asean member countries have in the past profited from the grouping's traditional spirit of working together and such spirit should be extended to include health emergency.
Dr Chua said a key challenge of the 21st century will be to address health issues or health emergencies through international cooperation in a spirit of partnership.
He said the scale of health emergencies are often too vast to be handled by one country alone.
"Globalisation is making countries increasingly interdependent and with the growth in international travel and commerce, many health problems are also extending beyond national boundaries," he said.
Dr Chua suggested that all Asean member countries strengthen human resources and organisational capabilities to prevent and manage health crises.
He said they should train their health workforce in surveillance, rapid response and outbreak control.
His ministry had started an Epidemic Intelligence Programme, a two-year in-service training programme, to improve the level of health emergency preparedness, he added.

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