ASEAN, Canada Discuss Point -Of-Entry Preparedness Against Health Risks

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Canada’s Global Partnership Programme (GPP) have been working together towards strengthening health security in the region.

GPP’s work has previously focused on capacity building such as laboratory and disease surveillance capacity, strengthening the surveillance network and multi-sectoral collaboration in ASEAN countries. This has been extended to Point-of �Entry (POE) preparedness.

A workshop is held from May 24-25 by the Department of Communicable Disease Control, Ministry of Health with partners to establish technical network and coordination mechanism and strengthen Point of Entry preparedness in ASEANs, and enhance understanding on disease risk assessment through the ASEAN Bio Diaspora project.

The objective of the workshop is also to identify practice to improve the capacity of point of entry health staffs in area of detection and investigation and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious disease at points of entry.

This workshop will support routine work and multi-sectoral collaboration among ASEAN member states. The member states will get more understanding on the coordination mechanism on disease prevention and control, both at the regional and national levels, Dr Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, D.G., Communicable Disease Control Department, Ministry of Health.

This preparedness comes timely as we remembered how we prepared during the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa countries in 2014, and its recent resurgence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018 reminds us how disease may show up again in endemic areas, said Charge d’ Affaires, the Embassy of Canada, Ms Hermann Lee-Anne.

In this region, many POEs are transportation hubs linking ASEAN with other regions. Therefore many emerging and re-emerging infectious disease can enter through POE such as Ebola, MERS Cov, ZIKA, HIV/AISs, new-case tuberculosis, and the ongoing avian influenza outbreak. Unless ASEAN countries have proper surveillance system in place to detect these public health threats, said Ms Lee-Anne.

Under The International Health Regulation (IHR 2005), to minimize the risk of international spread of disease through transportation, travel and trade; state parties are required to designate their international ports and airports.

PoE is requirement under IHR 2005 that all member states have to comply, in order to ensure national capacity to detect, assess, notify and report events and to respond promptly and effectively to public health risks and emergencies within their own countries and across border.

The requirements at PoE include not only screening and quarantine but also provision of a safe environment for travelers using the facilities, including potable water supplies, eating establishments, public washrooms and appropriate solid and liquid waste disposal services.

As the Lao PDR is a land-connecting country sharing borders with China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, and given the interconnectivity of this region, since the Lao PDR has direct and indirect fight connection with affected countries, the Lao PDR is considered a country with risk, unless all IHR requirements particularly PoE are met.

Source: Lao News Agency