The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Union (EU) have recently agreed to join forces to support eight Southeast Asian countries in their response to Covid-19 and strengthen preparedness for future pandemics.
The EU will provide €20 million for a Southeast Asia pandemic response and preparedness programme. WHO will use the funds to continue supporting the governments of Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
“The European Union is one of WHO’s major partners, particularly in emergency response. This partnership will go a long way in ensuring that the Southeast Asian region builds back better during and after the Covid-19 pandemic and is stronger and more resilient in the years ahead,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s regional director for Southeast Asia in a statement issued on Friday.
In line with the Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan and guided by the Asia Pacific strategy for emerging diseases and public health emergencies (APSED III), the programme aims to strengthen health systems and to support the Covid-19 response in the eight Southeast Asian countries, with a particular focus on reaching the unreached. The funds will be used to: mobilise all sectors and communities to ensure participation in prevention, preparedness and response activities; control sporadic cases, clusters and community transmission, suppress community transmission; and reduce deaths from Covid-19.
In addition, the WHO will use the opportunity provided by the EU funding to engage with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to enhance coordination among member states and promote a regional approach for responding to Covid-19, where similar challenges are faced.
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