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ASEAN Health Ethics Experts Meet to Strengthen Public Health Research and Ethics Cooperation

Health research and public health ethics representatives from institutions from ten Southeast Asian nations met to discuss and propose an agreement for better cooperation on health research and ethics at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City last 10-11 October.

Representatives of health research institutions and ethics committees from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathered in Makati City to draft an agreement on an ASEAN Network on Health Research and Public Health Ethics.

The ASEAN representatives were participants of the two-day seminar workshop on “Building Capacities in Research and Public Health Ethics in the ASEAN” held at the Dusit Thani Hotel on 10-11 October 2017.

The meeting aimed to raise awareness among participants on regional concerns on research and ethics, while also strengthening regional cooperation by forming an ASEAN network for health research and public health ethics.

Highlights of the discussions on regional concerns included Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology Institute of Biotechnology’s DNA Identification Center Deputy Director , Dr. Thi Thanh Huyen Tran’s, presentation on the burden of illness and access to healthcare in Vietnam.

Dr. Abu Bakar Abdul Majeed, Rector of Universiti Teknologi MARA Selangor discussed the use of traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) in Malaysia, focusing on the regulation of TCMs through the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act of 2013.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s representative, Dr. Sengchanh Kounnavong, Head of the Health Research Division of the National Institute of Public Health spoke on the ethical issues on public health surveillance.

Dr. Voo Teck Chuan, Assistant Professor from the Centre of Biomedical Ethics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine of the National University of Singapore discussed the ethical issues in health systems research.

The other remaining representatives, Dr. Bunsoth Mao, Vice Dean for the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Puthisastra, Cambodia; Dr. Leonardo de Castro, Chair of the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB); Dr. Chit Su Tinn, Researcher at the  Defense Services Medical Research Center, Myanmar; Dr. Mas Rina Wati Haji Abdul Hamid, Senior Lecturer of PAPRSB Institute of Health Sciences, Universiti Brunei Darussalam; and Bugi Ratno Budiarto from the  Research Center for Biotechnology, Indonesian  Institute of Science and Technology presented reports on the current state of health research and public health ethics in their respective countries.

Dr. Custer Deocaris, Research Management Division Chief of the Commission on Higher Education facilitated a “world café”, which is a structured conversation where participants periodically switched tables to answer questions like needs, resources, objectives, activities, and mechanisms on creating the ASEAN network on ethics.

On the second day of the meeting, Dr. Beverly Ho, the Department of Health’s representative for PHREB, presented the draft agreement on how to establish the ASEAN network for health research and public ethics. The participants gave their comments and revised the agreement which they were to bring home to their respective countries for presentation and approval of their respective ASEAN Subcomittee on Biotechnology focal points and head of their institution.