THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) needs to build resilience against future public health crises by raising investment in health and nutrition, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.
“Providing adequate healthcare services within and across the ASEAN community is a challenge, given interconnections of access to healthcare for everyone with poverty, water and sanitation, as well as with peace, stability, and governance,” the ADB said in a report.
“While ASEAN has attained significant progress over the years in meeting food security and nutritional needs within the region, hunger and malnutrition persist,” it added.
The ADB said that children are especially vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition.
As of 2020, the Philippines had the third-highest rate of child deaths in ASEAN.
The bank said that ASEAN should also improve reproductive, maternal, and child health; reduce the impact of both communicable and noncommunicable diseases; move towards universal health coverage; and ensure access to safe, affordable, and effective medicines and vaccines for all.
ASEAN needs to have in place interventions for eradicating hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity, the ADB said.
“Food insecurity should be addressed, particularly in the wake of rising food prices that have had clear impacts on the poor and marginalized people. ASEAN should make sure that fortified foods are available especially for poor and vulnerable people,” it added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson