Asean enhances health systems, boosts potential of intra-Asean market

Coordinating health and economic measures for recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is important as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) enhances health systems and maximizes potential of intra-Asean market.

Dr. Aladdin Rillo, senior economic advisor at Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia (ERIA), believes that any post-pandemic recovery depends on the current pandemic and how it impacts on the potential growth of the global economy, which in a way will also affect the growth rates of other countries as well as other regions like Asean.

“So on that basis, the ability therefore to manage or to balance health and economy during this pandemic is indeed very critical if you want a sustainable post-pandemic recovery,” he said in a webinar.

Rillo said overcoming the Covid-19 shock remains a key priority, but recovering better and ensuring a resilient and sustainable recovery requires tremendous actions and strategic measures.

“Beyond medical interventions and policy support, having a strong regional cooperation to ensure that regional measures are implemented is crucial as well as governments taking a dynamic view to make choices that soften trade-offs between health and economy,” he said.

Rillo said one important strategy in terms of building capacity for smart containment includes the ability to test, trace, and isolate through targeted and less economically disruptive measures.

“For example, there is very strong evidence that public testing can in fact reduce the number of infections by 10 percent per month. Similarly, there is very strong evidence that suggests that the development of vaccines, as well as their efficient distribution, can indeed lead to greater social stability as well as greater economic recovery moving forward,” he added.

Rillo further said Asean as a region has developed a comprehensive approach in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic –the Asean recovery framework– where both health and economic measures are given equal importance in terms of how they can be implemented to secure the recovery in the region.

He said the Asean comprehensive recovery framework consists of five broad strategies which include the need to enhance the health system, strengthen human security, advance sustainable and resilient future, accelerate inclusive digital market, and maximize potential of intra-Asean market.

To maximize the potential of intra-Asean market, Rillo said the Asean travel corridor arrangement facilitates essential business travel without compromising public health and safety, while the tourism sector reopens.

“The tourism sector is coordinating effectively with other sectors in the region, such as for example the health sector will be able to provide the necessary health protocols to ensure that the movement of people and services in the region is not only well facilitated but as well as safe across the region,” he added.

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