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 health agenda of the GMS Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030) will focus on communicable disease control through cross-border surveillance and modeling, information exchange, implementation of international health regulations, and pandemic preparedness. Since universal health coverage is a critical regional public good, GMS-2030 will aim to accelerate its implementation. This will be effected by strengthening the performance of GMS health systems to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats such as COVID-19 and other emerging diseases; supporting countries to comply with the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations; applying a unified approach to environmental, animal, and human health (“One Health”); strengthening protection of vulnerable communities and migrants; building capacity and cross-border cooperation to address priority health issues; and advancing gender equality to build subregional health cooperation leadership and decision-making policy. GMS-2030 aims to provide a new setting for the development of this subregion for the next decade.

Regional health cooperation initiatives in the GMS, based on the 5-year strategy that identifies operational priorities for health cooperation for 2019-2023, 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 respond 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.

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.

Related


Focal Persons at the Asian Development Bank

  • Rikard Elfving
    Human and Social Development Division,
    South Asia Department

Other Concerned Staff & Consultants

  • Pinsuda Alexander
    Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
    Southeast Asia Department
  • Mario Randolph Dacanay
    Human and Social Development Division,
    Southeast Asia Department
  • Rowena Sancio
    Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination 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.

Labor migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion play a vital role in economic development. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have organized joint virtual dialogues on labor mobility.


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.
  • Labor mobility.

Related



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ADB News

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Meeting photo via Khmer Times

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Meeting photo via Viet Nam Plus

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GMS in the News

A dream come true: Sonny Sisomvang (seated at the rightmost) at the Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, where she eventually graduated with a master's degree in public health through the Health Sector Governance Program. Photo: Public Health Faculty, Thammasat University

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Case Study

Regional Meeting: One Health in the Greater Mekong Subregion: Where are we now and where next?

The Asian Development Bank and the Nossal Institute for Global Health hosted a virtual meeting titled, “One Health in the Greater Mekong Subregion: Where are we now and where next?” on 3 June 2021 to share lessons learned in the use of multisectoral One Health approaches and priority actions identified under the TA 9571-REG:  Strengthening Regional Health Cooperation in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)

Events