(first published on state.gov)
Secretary Pompeo launched the U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures initiative. Health Futures captures our existing and ongoing work with ASEAN on public health and lays the groundwork for long-term partnership, targeted assistance, and a renewed focus on our most fundamental resource – the health and wellbeing of our combined one billion people. Over the last 20 years, the United States has invested over $3.5 billion in shared health goals in collaboration with ASEAN nations, representing a historic level of engagement in a serious and sustained way. This funding lays the foundation for strong public health throughout the region and is the basis for our engagement going forward. Our assistance to ASEAN continues to be responsive to the region’s needs, including as of April 22, $35.3 million in emergency funding for ASEAN Member States to combat COVID-19.
We have advanced our shared goals for a healthy future in a wide variety of fields, including HIV/AIDS and other infectious disease control, expanding safe water access, and improving nutrition and maternal and child health. Together, we are conducting joint health research, strengthening health capacity across the region and working to develop the next generation of human capital. We are also exploring smart city health solutions through the U.S-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership.
RESEARCH: Scientific knowledge is fundamental to understanding and diagnosing disease, and the development of new therapeutics. Joint research in the ASEAN region includes:
- More than 1,000 research projects over the last ten years, including 300+ active research projects in collaboration between ASEAN members and 20+ institutes at the U.S. National Institutes of Health;
- Over $30 million in direct research funding over the last ten years to universities and government research institutions;
- Support for HIV prevention trials, microbicide trials, AIDS clinical trials, tuberculosis epidemiology, and infectious disease clinical trials.
HEALTH SYSTEM CAPACITY: Strong health systems are critical to supporting a vibrant, healthy citizenry and addressing emerging health risks and threats. Collaborative capacity building in ASEAN includes:
- Supporting quality health care, services, and coverage for all citizens, especially the most vulnerable;
- Fostering public-private partnerships to promote healthy populations, especially in the area of diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis. Public-private partnerships between USAID and U.S. companies have enabled better detection and treatment of tuberculosis, enabling thousands of patients across ASEAN to start appropriate treatments for tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis;
- Controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Over 150,000 patients are now on antiretroviral therapy due to joint efforts between the United States and ASEAN countries. With U.S. support, Vietnam is on track to become the first President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Reliefcountry to achieve full ownership of its HIV/AIDS response by the end of 2020 by mobilizing domestic resources and ensuring sustainable financing;
- Sustained support to ASEAN to reduce tuberculosis and malaria in the region. For example, the number of cases of malaria in Laos dropped 70 percent from 2014 to 2017;
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Disease Detection Operations Center monitors and reports on outbreaks and their risk to communities around the world, including 44 infectious disease outbreaks across ASEAN from 2014-2019, reducing the risk of further spread;
- USAID is working with the ASEAN Secretariat to develop a Public Health Emergency Coordination System, bringing together existing ASEAN mechanisms, such as the ASEAN Emergency Operations Centre Network, to prepare for and respond to emerging public health emergencies.
DEVELOPING HUMAN CAPITAL IN HEALTH: Fostering the next generation of health care professionals is a critical part of our shared goals for a healthy future. Efforts include:
- Through the newly launched U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures Alumni Network, we are connecting 2,400 ASEAN medical and public health visiting scholar and program alumni to share best practices and directly engage with U.S. experts;
- Supporting ASEAN physicians, public health trainees, and science students to learn from U.S. expertise through Fulbright educational exchanges, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and other citizen exchanges;
- Training more than 1,300 disease detectives across ASEAN to track diseases, research outbreaks, and respond to health emergencies;
- Creating One Health university networks (four country-specific, one regional) to prepare health workforces to prevent, detect, and respond to the threat of infectious diseases, which have trained more than 10,000 students and professionals since 2014.
- Promoting telehealth and e-records to help cities and healthcare professionals deliver services and information efficiently.