Regional Health Meeting: GMS Strategy on Health Cooperation

More than 50 participants from the Ministries of Health, Planning, and Finance of the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam) met on 5 July 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss the content and direction of the proposed GMS Strategy on Health Cooperation and the composition and terms of reference of the proposed Working Group on Health Cooperation (WGHC). The meeting was organized by the Asian Development Bank.

The participants raised the following points as considerations for the further development and discussion of the proposed strategy for health cooperation:

  • consider health as a regional public good,
  • respond to emerging health needs in the subregion through innovation and collaboration for improved national health systems, and
  • develop and harmonize standards for movement of people and goods.

The participants agreed to start country consultations immediately. The results will be shared at the First Working Group on Health Cooperation in December 2017 in Luang Prabang in the Lao PDR.

On the establishment of the proposed working group, it was noted that there is a growing demand for health cooperation in the subregion to serve as a platform for knowledge-sharing and information exchange, a mechanism for policy advocacy at the regional and country levels, and a mechanism for resource coordination and mobilization. There is also a growing need for regional health investment development, and to link to other sectors for the promotion and protection of people’s health.

The participants recommended that lessons from other GMS working groups should be reviewed to serve as useful inputs in the management of the proposed working group on health cooperation, ensuring members’ sustained participation, and preparing a 5-year blueprint and work plan based on the the GMS Strategy on Health Cooperation. It was also agreed that ADB should serve as the working group's secretariat.

The meeting also reviewed the list of regional and country project ideas on health cooperation. A regional investment portfolio is expected to be developed alongside the GMS Strategy on Health Cooperation.