According to the World Health Organisation, cooperation between countries in the healthcare sector can be an effective tool to strengthen, share and accelerate health development within countries and across regions. It involves creating, adapting, transferring and sharing knowledge and experiences to improve health – while also making the most of existing resources and capacities. Such cooperation promotes equitable inter-country and inter-regional development, and combats common health sector challenges.
Non-Aligned Movement too has emphasised the importance of healthcare between its Member States. NAM Member States are actively engaging and strengthening their cooperation in the healthcare sector. A recent example of this was manifested as Malaysia and the Philippines strengthened their cooperation in the health sector.
On 31st July 2019, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed to collaborate in various areas of healthcare through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU was signed between YB Datuk Seri Dr. Dzulkefly bin Ahmad, Minister of Health from the Government of Malaysia and Department of Health Secretary (Minister) Honourable Dr. Francisco T. Duque III of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines at a Health Minister Level Bilateral Meeting held in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The meeting was also attended by senior officials from various agencies related in cross border issues pertaining to health, from both respective governments.
According to the MoU, the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia will cooperate in the areas of primary healthcare, reproductive health, health education, human resources for health development, nutrition, exchange of information on issues related to food safety and quality including but not limited to rapid alert systems related to imported products, prevention and control of communicable diseases, prevention and control of non-communicable disease, regulatory control of pharmaceuticals, traditional medicines, herbal medicine, health supplements and cosmetic products, medical devices, health tourism, health researches, and healthcare services.
According to a joint statement issued after the Health Minister Level Bilateral Meeting held at Putrajaya, the Health Ministers of both countries emphasized the importance of advancing collaboration to address cross-border health concerns amidst the rapidly changing global environment.
The Ministers acknowledged that health cooperation between neighbouring countries was crucial to rapidly respond to public health threats and prevent greater health risks including epidemics, microbial resistance, among others.
The two Health Ministers expressed their hopes that the outcome of the meeting will further strengthen the ties and cooperation in the management of cross-border issues relating to the health of both countries and across various stakeholders and also looked forward to a lasting collaboration between both countries in tackling and resolving health issues.
Further, as per the MoU, Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG), led by designated officials from the Health Ministries of both countries will be formed to facilitate and develop collaborative activities and oversee, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the said MOU on Cooperation in the Field of Health. Exchanges of information and documentation on health will also be done through this joint committee.
Both the Health Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to support each other in joint activities, such as port-to-port collaboration on healthcare and vaccination programme for children in Alternative Learnings Centers, as part of efforts to help realize Universal Health Care under ASEAN.
“We both hope that the outcome of this meeting will further strengthen the ties and cooperation in the management of cross-border issues relating to the health of both our countries and across various stakeholders, and we look forward to a lasting collaboration between both countries in tackling and resolving health issues,” Philippine Health Secretary Duque remarked. YB Datuk Seri Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad, Minister of Health from the Government of Malaysia, reiterated Malaysia’s commitment to ensuring the success of collaboration between both countries in the field of health and for continuous engagement to be held subsequent to this Meeting.