ASEAN Health Ministers discuss A(H1N1) and AIDS issues
19 May 2009
Ministers of Health of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, gathered for an informal meeting on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly (WHA) on 19 May 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The main objective of the meeting was to discuss issues of common interest during the WHA, such as ASEAN’s strategies to address the A(H1N1) flu outbreak and prevent a pandemic as well as to discuss with UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé strategies to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
The meeting was chaired by Honorable Dr Francisco T. Duque III, Secretary of Health of the Philippines and supported by UNAIDS. It was a follow-up to the 2nd ASEAN-UN summit that took place in New York on 13 September 2005. In the New York meeting, participants adopted a Joint Communiqué stating the need for ASEAN members to have a voice in global forums such as the World Health Assembly and participate in global decision-making regarding allocation of funds for HIV prevention and control.
Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations presented his vision to the ASEAN countries and restated UNAIDS’ commitment to support countries in achieving universal access.
Mr Sidibé also outlined how a number of countries in the region have made significant progress in ensuring that the most vulnerable communities, including sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users, are a priority in national AIDS responses.
Mr Sidibé underscored the importance of government leadership in order to achieve the universal access targets and praised the commitment demonstrated by the ASEAN countries in responding to the AIDS epidemic as seen in their adoption in 2007 of the ASEAN Declaration on HIV and AIDS and the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.
At the end of the meeting, Health Ministers produced a Joint-ASEAN Ministerial Statement on ASEAN’s position in pandemic preparedness for avian, human and A(H1N1) influenza, particularly on cross-border collaboration, sharing of information and viral specimens, and universal access on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.