Health ministers from Korea, China and Japan agreed Sunday to closely cooperate on health issues, particularly on the joint prevention of infectious diseases.
Meeting in Kumamoto, Japan, over the weekend, the ministers reviewed their existing achievements on the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, healthy aging, non-communicable diseases, universal healthcare and disaster health risk management.
The three ministers signed a joint declaration related to each topic.
|Korea’s Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo (right), Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Takumi Nemoto (center) and China’s Director of National Health Commission Ma Xiaowei pose for photographers during their annual meeting in Kumamoto, Japan, Sunday.|
Given the geographical proximity of the three countries and rising traffic volume of people and goods, the ministers agreed that the need for close cooperation at the regional level to address the epidemic of infectious diseases is extremely imminent.
The declaration also noted the effective response from the three countries to many public health emergencies on a global scale, including pandemic influenza A (H1N1) and MERS under the tripartite mechanism of cooperation based on the memorandum of cooperation and the joint action plan against pandemic influenza and emerging infectious diseases of common concern.
They agreed to continue the discussion during the upcoming three-nation forum for communicable disease control and prevention to be held in Tokyo on Dec. 5.
The statement also vowed to work closely with the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) and the Asia-Pacific countries to further strengthen the preparedness and response within the region.
For healthy aging and non-communicable diseases (NCD), they agreed that the extension of a healthy life, as well as life expectancy, is an important policy issue for the three countries, which are experiencing a rapidly aging society.
“To achieve this, it is important to enhance measures to ensure healthy aging and prevent the elderly from getting physically and mentally frail, as well as to share experiences,” the statement read. “Also, as the population ages, NCDs have become a major cause of death among the three countries. This has caused a rapid increase in government’s spending on medical and nursing care.”
Therefore, it is vital to promote comprehensive measures with an emphasis on primary and secondary prevention of chronic diseases, healthy nutrition, physical exercise, smoking cessation, and health checkups for early detection, it added.
In the case of universal healthcare (UHC) and disaster health risk management, the three countries agreed that they shared the same recognition that it is crucial to maintaining the health system amid the change in demographic structures and economic situations.
They also reaffirmed the importance of supporting neighboring Asian countries to achieve and maintain UHC. To this end, the three nations will cooperate toward the adoption of a meaningful political declaration and build political momentum towards the United Nations High-Level Meeting on UHC in 2019.
The ministers also plan to share experiences of the disaster health risk management and work closely with WPRO, to strengthen regional disaster response capacities.
The next meeting of the health ministers of the three countries will be held in Korea next year.