ASEAN member nations project unity against global pandemic

10:00 | 31/03/2020
Vietnam keeps a firm hand on the rudder as ASEAN chair as it continues to take the initiative in directly working with regional nations and its partners in the common fight against the expanding health crisis.
asean member nations project unity against global pandemic
ASEAN member nations project unity against global pandemic

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh stated that as the ASEAN chair for 2020, Vietnam has been working closely with other ASEAN member states in advancing a multi-sectoral approach to enhance the bloc’s preparedness and responsive measures to combat the disease and minimise its impacts. “Our ongoing concerted efforts against this pandemic have shown a truly cohesive and responsive ASEAN,” he stated.

There are some encouraging results thanks to these timely efforts. Out of the 650 million population, the rate of infectioun in the ASEAN is less than 0.001 per cent, and 12 per cent of infected patients have been successfully cured. Despite the growing number of infections, the fatality rate accounts for only 2.07 per cent of total cases. “The situation is still worrisome and there is much more to be done,” DPM Minh said.

Last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had telephone conversations with counterpart Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen regarding co-operation among ASEAN member states in response to the pandemic.

The three leaders agreed that with the complicated situation, ASEAN countries – particularly those with joint borders – should facilitate the representative agencies of each country to support citizens; enhance information sharing; solve incurred problems in the spirit of co-operation, sharing, and sympathy with each other; and maintain normal trade, creating favourable conditions for intra-regional trade.

Emphasising the importance of co-operation in healthcare, PM Phuc said that the co-ordination and mutual assistance among ASEAN countries in general and among the three countries in particular to defeat the global health crisis is very necessary and meaningful.

In the spirit of friendship and special solidarity between the three countries, the Vietnamese government decided to support the Laotian and Cambodian governments with necessary medical equipment valued at $100,000 for each nation, along with direct support from ministries, sectors, localities, and businesses to Laotian and Cambodian partners. PM Phuc also vowed that Vietnam is ready to send medical experts to support and share experiences on epidemic prevention if Laos and Cambodia require it.

Earlier, the Vietnamese PM also had a phone call with Indonesian President Joko Widodo about co-operation between ASEAN countries to deal with the virus. The two leaders agreed to strengthen co-ordination not only in the ASEAN but also between the ASEAN and China and other partners.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son last week had talks with leaders of foreign ministries from the US, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand on co-operation in curbing the pandemic.

Since the outbreak began, in the role of ASEAN chair, Vietnam has been continuously rolling out initiatives to co-ordinate with other member states, including the issuance of the joint statement on strengthening the ASEAN’s economic resilience in the context of the global health emergency, which was welcomed by economic ministers across the region. Moreover, Vietnam also joined a ministerial-level video conference between the EU and the ASEAN to discuss the issue.

DPM Minh proposed that the EU to assist the ASEAN in terms of technical issues and scientific research; co-operate in the control and treatment of infected cases; pay attention to ensuring the rights and equal treatment of citizens of ASEAN countries in the EU; and co-ordinate to minimise the socio-economic impacts that arise. The DPM also reaffirmed that Vietnam will continue to promote close co-operation with ASEAN countries and partners, the World Health Organization, and the international community to fight the epidemic and ensure the peaceful living of people and the stable development of nations.

With 169 cases by Saturday afternoon, Vietnam has yet to suffer a related death. It is the first country in Southeast Asia to create a mobile room for disinfection and test kits for the coronavirus.

The United States is discussing with Vietnam and other ASEAN members about promoting ASEAN-US co-operation in healthcare, particularly in prevention and fighting against the pandemic. The US government has announced that the Emergency Reserve Fund for Infectious Diseases under the United States Agency for International Development will set aside $37 million in assistance to help countries in the ASEAN to respond to the spread of the global disease.

By Phuong Hao

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