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posted May 19, 2014, 8:26 PM by APEC Admin   [ updated Jul 9, 2014, 8:03 PM by Admin Web ]

  • Enhancing preparedness for and response to public health threats, including avian and human pandemic influenza and vector borne diseases

Avian and Pandemic Influenza Events of the past three years have highlighted the need to remain vigilant against the threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases that have the potential to impact severely on both human lives and economic productivity. Currently, the H5N1 avian influenza virus is the greatest known emerging infectious disease threat that is facing the global community.

Recognizing the economic and health consequences of a potential pandemic in the APEC region, APEC Leaders endorsed the APEC Initiative on Preparing for and Mitigating an Influenza Pandemic at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting on November 19, 2005 in Korea. The Initiative identifies eleven areas for collective work by APEC economies to complement and support those of international organizations such as the WHO, FAO and OIE. Focusing on these directions, the HWG will work to build regional and members capacity to strengthen pandemic influenza preparedness and response by pursuing activities in the related link.

  • Fighting against HIV/AIDS in the APEC region

In the 2004 APEC Initiative “Fighting Against AIDS in APEC” Leaders pledged their political commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region. UNAIDS estimated that approximately 40.3 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS in 2005. In Asia an estimated 1.1 million people were newly infected with HIV with the total number of people living with HIV estimated to be 8.3 million.

The potential impact of HIV/AIDS on economic growth, development, and the social fabric of APEC economies is daunting. Affecting people in the prime of their working lives, HIV/AIDS has critical implications for business and economies, as well as for individuals and their families. Direct costs to the public and private sectors include increased training costs and increased demand for health and social benefits. Indirect costs include the loss of productive capacity associated with the loss of workers and the loss of their skills, knowledge and experience. A healthy population will be critical for the future economic growth and development of the region. The private sector has a role to play in mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS and stopping its spread.

Building on the 2004 Leaders Statement, the recommendations from the two HIV/AIDS workshops held in 2005, and APEC’s comparative advantage, the HWG will continue to pursue activities to strengthen APEC economies ability to respond to HIV/AIDS, both among member economies and between the public and private sectors in the related link.

  • Improving health outcomes through advances in health information technology 

APEC member economies have been working collectively on how advances in information technology can help expand access to health information (electronic health information) and health care services (e.g. telehealth) for their citizens. Great benefits exist for both developing and developed economies in the increased use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve the health of individuals and populations worldwide.

At the Brunei APEC Summit, APEC Economic Leaders launched an Action Agenda for the New Economy to demonstrate their resolve to work to create a digital society. Ministers were directed to develop and expand the agenda to enable all APEC economies to maximize the benefits of the emerging New Economy. An e-APEC Task Force was established by Senior Officials to coordinate APEC initiatives to develop and expand the Action Agenda for the New Economy. The e-APEC Task Force developed an e-APEC strategy that identifies the necessary policy environment and specifies appropriate goals and actions, drawing upon the existing efforts and on-going work within APEC. Of particular interest to the HWG is the reference under Cooperation and Information Exchange to “Using IT to enable health networks to extend medical services to a wider community and to address basic health issues.”

Potential benefits include improved health outcomes, lowering of health care service delivery costs, and an increase in global competitiveness of health communication technologies. For instance, by working together, economies and the private sector can drive changes that offer potential for better tracking systems leading to fewer medical errors, and better care for patients globally. In recognition of this, the HWG economies will collaborate on projects/initiatives dealing with Health Information Technology that can improve health outcomes in the Asia Pacific region in the related link.