The ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers gathered for a special meeting on Ebola preparedness and response on December 15, the ASEAN Secretariat posted on its website.

The event was attended by ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, health officials from the bloc’s member nations and partner countries namely China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan, along with representatives from regional and international organisations.

They discussed ways of strengthening regional mechanisms and increasing national capacity to prevent Ebola, a global threat as called by Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO) Margaret Chen, as well as other emerging infectious diseases.

At the meeting, Anthony Banbury, Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, shared the Ebola situation in West Africa and global response to the epidemic while Sierra Leonean Minister of Health and Sanitation Abu Bakarr Fofanah highlighted challenges in addressing the Ebola outbreak in his country.

Poonam Khetrapa Singh, Regional Director of WHO Southeast Asia Regional Office (SEARO), and Shin Young-soo, Regional Director of WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO), discussed WHO support to the Ebola preparedness and response in the regions.

Participants exchanged views on the regional collaboration for Ebola response and noted the Strategic Framework of Actions for Enhancing Collaborations among ASEAN+3 countries for the preparedness and response to Ebola, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies which contains immediate actions for 2015 as well as medium and long-term actions for 2015-2020.

The ministers then endorsed the joint statement of the ASEAN+3 Health Ministers’ Special Meeting on Ebola preparedness and response.-VNA