The PREPARE Project, led by International Medical Corps and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), convened a high-level meeting in Brunei Darussalam on pandemic preparedness with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The fourth meeting of the ASEAN Technical Working Group on Pandemic Preparedness Response, the event aimed to develop the ASEAN work plan on multi-sectoral pandemic and preparedness response from 2012 to 2015.
International Medical Corps strengthens the capacities of host countries through PREPARE’s “whole- of-society” approach, with involvement from all sectors of society. PREPARE is building on previously funded USAID programs to improve broader pandemic and disaster preparedness through simulation and training exercises to develop collaboration throughout the civil sector, private sector and the government.
“ASEAN should prepare for worst-case scenarios in order to mitigate massive loss of lives and social disruptions in the event of a severe pandemic or any disaster, in the interest of safeguarding national or regional security,” said Dr. Noel Miranda, PREPARE’s Regional Advisor for Multisectoral Pandemic Preparedness and Response. “Multi-sectoral continuity of operations planning and the promotion of the whole-of-society approach are key discussion points.”
Held in Bandar Seri Begawan from March 6-8, 2012, the meeting in Brunei brought together all member states to discuss pandemic and preparedness response work plans, monitoring and evaluation, as well as issues raised at previous meetings. One of the identified deficiencies within ASEAN is the lack of a senior-level regional body to coordinate emergencies requiring multi-sectoral approach such as pandemics. While there is an ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management, the focal points are the national disaster response agencies that mostly deal with relief and response to natural disasters.
Some ASEAN member states commented that the meeting in Brunei was the first time that all member states could be present. “Countries are self-funded at this meeting, so without the support of International Medical Corps many would not have made it again,” said Jacob Schafer, PREPARE Project Officer, International Medical Corps.