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20 JAN 2021

SINGAPORE: The Malaysian Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Public Health Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood hopes that ASEAN can have a regional Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

She expressed her hope at a webinar on COVID-19 organised by the Singapore Temasek Foundation here today, carrying the theme “Do Good Together”.

“I have been mooting the idea of an ASEAN CDC. It helps us to look at low-cost solutions for the region and pulling our resources and ideas around innovation,” said Jemilah, who appeared as a panellist in the session entitled ‘International Collaboration and Partnerships’.

She said there was no reason why ASEAN could not have a regional agreement on endorsements, such as for vaccines, where approval by one of the countries could allow the others to accept and adopt it as well.

“So I think there is so much more room for improvement on the multilateral side,” she added.

As for the sustainability of the CDC, Dr Jemilah said there has to be a commitment from ASEAN member states to actually fund system establishments that will benefit the people and economies of the 10-member countries.

“We have to really invest in the region but I also feel the world has evolved and changed so fast, and destruction affects different regions, countries, and contexts in different ways. So we need to be much more diversified in finding solutions,” she said.

The session was moderated by Temasek International’s managing director (community stewardship), Shaun Seow.

Meanwhile, when asked whether countries should also share their failures in managing COVID-19, Jemilah said: “I think Sweden was very courageous to say that their approach on herd immunity was not the right one.”

“We learn best from some types of failures that we make. I would encourage that we have honest conversations as part of the learning process,” she said.

Among the other panel members at the session were A*STAR Singapore Bioinformatics Institute executive director Dr Sebastian Maurer-Stroh; Ministry of Health Singapore chief health scientist Prof Tan Chorh Chuan; and Indonesia’s Ambassador to Singapore, Suryo Pratomo. -Bernama


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