Duterte prods Asean: Prioritize health security, ‘people-centered’ efforts vs pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) should prioritize health security and implement “people-centered” efforts as the region continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday.
Duterte issued this call as he spoke before fellow Southeast Asian leaders during the 37th Asean Summit via video teleconferencing.
“Our immediate priority is health security. We have to strengthen our health systems by ensuring the unimpeded supply of medical supplies and technologies, and by enhancing early warning systems for health emergencies,” Duterte said during the plenary.
The President urged the regional bloc to fast track the implementation of the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework, COVID-19 Asean Response Fund, Asean Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, and Asean Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.
Duterte also reiterated that all countries, rich or poor, should have access to safe vaccines against the coronavirus once it is developed.
“No one is safe until all of us are safe,” he stressed.
The President also underscored the need for countries’ actions to be “people-centered” after the pandemic displaced many people from their jobs.
“The massive displacement of workers, including migrant workers, compels us to upskill and reskill our labor force. We must equip our people for a rapidly evolving labor market under the new normal,” said Duterte.
“We must address the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on women, migrant workers, and other vulnerable sectors…We must also intensify cooperation in promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers, regardless of their status,” he went on.
The online summit, which will be held from November 12 to November 15, is hosted by Vietnam with the theme “Cohesive and Responsive Asean.”
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