ASEAN vows to strengthen disease immunization

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 03 2019 10:33 AM

MANILA -- Southeast Asian nations have committed to strengthen immunization and achieve vaccine security in the region in a declaration issued Saturday during its annual summit.

Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said they recognize the "overwhelming evidence that demonstrates the benefits of immunization as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions known."

"Vaccines have saved countless lives, eradicated smallpox, lowered the global incidence of polio by 99 percent and reduced illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs)," they said.

The 10 countries called for regional collaboration as they warned that essential vaccines shortage, even for a short period of time, in the region increases the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

ASEAN urged member states to strengthen cooperation and efforts through "capacity building and training, sharing of best practices" and other developmental actions.

It also called on intergovernmental agencies, regional organizations, experts and other stakeholders, to support and promote the ASEAN vaccine security and self-reliance. 

Vaccine security is defined by the UNICEF as "sustained, uninterrupted and timely supply of affordable vaccine of assured quality."

In the Philippines, immunization coverage has dropped to 40 percent last year, from an average 70 percent in recent years, partly due to mistrust stoked by a dengue vaccine scandal, authorities said.

After nearly 2 decades, polio has re-emerged in the country, which earlier declared a national dengue epidemic and a measles outbreak.