Regional health security in Southeast Asia is at risk because officials are turning a blind eye to animal health and the prevention of zoonotic threats, Tsung-Ling Lee and Tikki Pang write.
Southeast Asia is a hotspot for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Rapid population growth, urbanisation, climate change, an intensification of livestock production, increased human mobility and trade in livestock and wildlife across national borders, changes in land-use and deforestation all underpin and exacerbate the region’s susceptibility to infectious diseases, capable of achieving pandemic proportions.
Recognising the urgency of safeguarding Southeast Asia’s regional health security, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional office proposed a dedicated fund aimed at building preparedness for health emergencies occurring in the region during its recent meeting in Sri Lanka.
The Regional Committee, the highest decision-making body for WHO in Southeast Asia, announced the establishment of a new joint funding stream under the existing Southeast Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF), which is responsible for the rapid disbursement of funds and deployment of emergency health professionals in post-disaster areas.