Jakarta (ANTARA) - ASEAN countries sought to strengthen the regional health architecture to face future pandemics at the ASEAN Finance and Health Ministers' Meeting (AFHMM) in Jakarta on Thursday, according to Health Ministry secretary general Kunta Wibawa Dasanugraha.

At a press conference on AFHMM here the same day, he said that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the necessity of better preparation.

He informed that the ASEAN meeting on Thursday was geared toward preparing the health capacity in the ASEAN region for preventing, preparing for, and responding to pandemics.

According to him, during the meeting, ASEAN finance and health ministers agreed on several important points.

The first point was to pay attention to regional and national financial architecture studies to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response in ASEAN.

He said that the effort can support strong and sustainable cooperation through the existing mechanisms and strategies, as well as optimize regional resources and ensure synergy and introspection in ASEAN.

The AFHMM delegates also committed to increasing national investment under the One Health approach for preventing animal-to-human transmission of diseases.

"Cooperation is needed to map out which animals (can transmit diseases) and identify diseases from animals that can be transmitted to humans," Dasanugraha said.

In addition, the AFHMM discussed strategies to strengthen the community resilience architecture in ASEAN countries through the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF).

"We want to strengthen ASEAN's regional resilience. We are cooperating in the region because diseases can occur anywhere," he said.

He further said that the meeting also discussed the expansion of the use of ASEAN's COVID-19 response fund to tackle future pandemics.

Indonesia and Thailand initiated the regional COVID-19 response fund, he added. The fund is expected to be used more flexibly to deal with future diseases.

"The available fund is US$10 million; it will increase over time," he informed.

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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