Health Cooperation

Countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion aim for Sustainable Development Goals for health. Through the Working Group on Health Cooperation, GMS countries are taking comprehensive, coordinated and proactive approaches to address regional health issues.


The Greater Mekong Subregion still experiences high incidence of communicable diseases and drug-resistant microorganisms. GMS countries also suffer from inefficient health systems due to lack of synergies, economies of scale, and scope; and there are few common solutions to common health problems.

The Working Group on Health Cooperation seeks to address collective action problems of regional health investments and limited resources for health that tend to prioritize national investments.

Regional health cooperation initiatives in the Greater Mekong Subregion focus on three strategic pillars:

Strategic Pillar 1: Health security as a regional public good tackles the subregion’s vulnerability to acute public health events. Ensuring robust national health systems with capacity to prevent, detect and respond to transnational health threats is the cornerstone of health security.

Strategic Pillar 2: Health impacts of connectivity and mobility responds to health challenges stemming from an increasingly interconnected GMS. Strengthening health systems in border areas where migrant and mobile populations pass and reside is an entry point for programming. Also includes. integrating health impact assessment during project planning and implementation of GMS urban and transport infrastructure projects.

Strategic Pillar 3: Health workforce development builds on the subregion’s existing human resource capacity to address common health challenges. Strong leadership in turn opens opportunities for intraregional capacity building, utilizing the subregions’ depth of health human resource and health programming experience to tackle shared health issues and enhance country efforts to attain Sustainable Development Goal targets.

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Focal Persons at the Asian Development Bank

  • Azusa Sato
    Health Specialist
    Human and Social Development Division,
    Southeast Asia Department
  • Kyi Thar
    Public Health Specialist (Consultant),
    Human and Social Development Division
    Southeast Asia Department
  • Mario Randolph Dacanay
    Regional Coordinator/Health Cooperation Specialist (Consultant)
    Human and Social Development Division
    Southeast Asia Department
  • Marissa Espiritu
    Finance and Logistics Specialist (Consultant),
    Human and Social Development Division,
    Southeast Asia Department/GMS Secretariat

Send inquiries to GMS Secretariat.


Human Resource Development

After more than 20 years, the Working Group on Human Resource Development was restructured in 2017 to focus on health, given the strategic importance of regional cooperation in this area.


Consequent to the review of the GMS Institutional Framework in 2016 and a separate review of the Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Human Resource Development in the GMS 2013–2017, GMS ministers endorsed the creation of the Working Group on Health Cooperation in 2017.

Human resource development, however, continues to be an important sector in the Greater Mekong Subregion. At an extraordinary meeting of the Working Group on Human Resource Development in Bangkok on 4 July 2017, participants agreed on the following key points:

  • Refocus the working group and its approach, given the new strategic direction toward health cooperation.
  • Continue to respond to demand for analysis and similar initiatives in higher education at the country level.
  • Cooperate with other development partners with expertise on labor and migration.
  • Integrate social development across all sectors of the GMS.
  • Develop the scope for a new Working Group on Health Cooperation.

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Mekong Forum Looks at Ways to Promote Healthy Economic Zones

Economic zones are growth engines of the Greater Mekong Subregion, stimulating economic activity and creating jobs. Yet, not much attention has been given to the social and health aspects of economic zone development until recently.

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The project will enhance responses to emerging infectious diseases and the management of other major public health threats. Photo: ADB.

ADB $125 Million Loan and Grant to Strengthen Health Security in GMS

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (23 November 2016) — The Asian Development Bank has approved a $117 million loan to the Governments of Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Viet Nam to enhance responses to emerging infectious diseases and the management of other major public health threats. The Lao PDR government is also receiving $8 million in grant assistance.

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Strengthened connectivity amongst countries along the Greater Mekong Subregion southern coastal corridor will help reduce HIV risks and provide new opportunities for growth and employment. Photo: ADB.

ADB, Australia Provide $37 Million to Keep Viet Nam Road Upgrades on Track

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (12 February 2013) – The Asian Development Bank and Government of Australia are providing an extra $37 million for a project improving roads and tackling HIV and human trafficking risks along a key coastal route linking Viet Nam and Cambodia.

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ADB Supports Lao PDR, Viet Nam in Addressing HIV Threat in Border Areas

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (31 October 2012) - The Asian Development Bank is providing $20 million in grants and loans to support Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam prevent the spread of HIV infections in 23 border provinces where risks are growing due to increased population movement and commercial activities along economic corridors.

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Factors Affecting Firm-Level Investment and Performance in Border Economic Zones and Implications for Developing Cross-Border Economic Zones between the People's Republic of China and its Neighboring GMS Countries

The establishment of cross-border economic zones in the border areas of the People's Republic of China and its neighboring countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion has recently emerged as a strategy for further promoting trade and investments in the subregion. Unlike a border economic zone (BEZ), which is confined within the national territory, a CBEZ is an economic zone traversing a transnational area and requiring a unified set of policies and incentives in such areas as finance, taxation, investment, trade, and customs regulation.