Sec. Of State Clinton Participates In ASEAN Forum; ASEAN Health Ministers Meet

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Vietnam on Thursday to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum and to mark the 15th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam, VOV News reports. According to the news service, this is Clinton’s first visit to the country since she became secretary of state. During her trip, she will have meetings with Deputy Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem (7/22).

Clinton is expected to focus on nuclear proliferation in the region and human rights in Vietnam, NPR’s Morning Edition reports (Northam, 7/22).    

Also Thursday, ASEAN health ministers, who held meetings throughout the day, said the WHO should review the pandemic alert levels and that future alerts should consider the severity of the disease, Channel NewsAsia reports.

Singapore’s Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who chaired the ASEAN health ministers meeting, said, “We also look forward to a speedy resolution of the mechanism for viruses and benefit sharing. … We welcome the view of the global response to the H1N1 pandemic, by the international health regulations review committee, and we look forward to the outcome of the review.”

The health ministers discussed the recent H1N1 flu outbreak and other issues at the meeting. “Although H1N1 has since passed its peak, the ministers all agreed it is important to continue educating the public on good hygiene practices. They also emphasised the need for high-risk groups, such as the elderly, to go for vaccination,” the news service writes.

The ministers also discussed the need for more collaboration with East Asian countries to combat disease outbreaks. “When fighting international disease outbreaks, we are most effective when working with as many of our neighbours as possible. So we decided that we should task our senior officials to study how the collaboration can be implemented,” Khaw said.  

The health ministers also proposed introducing an ASEAN Dengue Day to raise awareness about the disease, but a date has not yet been designated, according to Khaw (Chan, 7/22).

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