Network of ASEAN-China Think-tanks (NACT) Working Group Meeting

“Public-Private Partnership in 30-year ASEAN-China Public Health Cooperation”

Friday, July 9th 2021, ASEAN Studies Center Universitas Gadjah Mada (ASC UGM) in collaboration with Chinese Foreign Affairs University (CFAU) has organized the NACT Working Group Meeting on “Public-Private Partnership in 30-year ASEAN-China Public Health Cooperation”. On behalf of both NACT Indonesia and NACT China, Dr. Wawan Mas’udi, the Dean of Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Universitas Gadjah Mada, delivered an opening speech to officially begin the meeting.

This working group meeting highlighted some issues related to the public health in China and Southeast Asia during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic, however, does not only present challenges, but also gives opportunities to reform in what ways we can manage the public health, as it is one of the most important sectors that should be concerned by the governments in the region.

During the event, nine country representatives presented their national perspectives and current conditions in relation to the public-private partnerships in health sector. The presentations specifically covered the situations of China (two separate presentation by Prof. Qiao Youlin and Dr. Zhou Xingwu), Indonesia (by Dr. Luqman-nul Hakim), Myanmar (by Dr. Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo), Lao PDR (by Ms. Sounanda Bolivong), Malaysia (by Dr. Tan Ching Siang), Singapore (by Dr. Qian Jiwei), Vietnam (by Dr. Ha Thi Hong Van) and the Philippines (by Ricardo Benjamin D. Osorio and Kristina Azela B. Diza).

Through the presentations, it can be seen that several ASEAN Member States are experiencing circumstances which cannot be borne solely by the government alone. As most of these countries stated that the governments have limited resources—particularly in financing. Therefore, public-private partnerships have been seen as viable alternatives for the government in addressing financial issues. In the context of Covid-19 pandemic, these countries noted how the business communities have helped the government in mitigating the health crisis, from donating funds for the health care services and vaccine rollouts, providing medical supplies, to actively helping to maintain the stability of the food supply chain. However, in certain countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, internal measures should be taken to fix and build a comprehensive system of mechanisms and policies that regulate the public-private partnerships, particularly in the health sector.

The meeting also discussed the possibility to formulate policy recommendations for the governments in ASEAN and China, that could eventually unite the sources, initiatives to ensure the well-being of citizens during this pandemic. The crisis we are all in certainly call for immediate discussion on how both public and private sectors can come together to tackle the mounting cases, and to prepare some strategic plans to accelerate the socio-economic recovery. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” as Dr. Dafri said while closing the working group meeting seemed to remind and at the same time invite the government, private enterprises, and civil society organisations to strengthen their constructive interactions in enhancing regional cooperation on public health sector.


Reported by Martin Alistair

Program and Research Intern

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