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Politics

Infectious disease experts seek pan-Asian cooperation

A speaker from Taiwan, left, shares his knowledge in the discussion.

TOKYO -- Nikkei and Nikkei Business Publications on Friday held the third Nikkei Asian Conference on Communicable Disease in Tokyo. The two-day conference is meant to discuss and propose how Asian countries together tackle infectious diseases that are threatening the region.

     The background of this conference is that as more people go beyond borders with economic development, the threat of infectious disease is spreading. For Japan, which will host a summit of the Group of Seven countries in May and the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, preventing such diseases is a key national issue.

     In her opening comments, conference co-chair Nahoko Shindo, from the Department of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases of the World Health Organization, warned that destabilizing factors in global society, "including refugees and urbanization, make the issue more complex, even if the prevention and treatment measures [for infectious diseases] are established."

     The conference gathered about 80 experts from various fields -- government, international organizations, academia and business. The participants came not only from Japan, but also from Taiwan, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and other countries.

Expert discuss on Ebola countermeasures.

     On Friday there were three main panel discussion sessions, covering countermeasures against tuberculosis and Ebola, as well as ways to build an Asian common platform to tackle these issues.

     In the discussion on the common platform, Phat So from the Department of the Communicable Diseases Control of Cambodia's Ministry of Health said that a common clinical test center is essential. He said, "In terms of laboratories, Cambodia is limited compared with Thailand and other Asian countries. I want the Asian [common] quality center to assist Cambodia so that we can have quality equal to other Asian countries."

     Tatsuya Kondo, chief executive of Japan's Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency and an expert in regulatory science, explained that his organization earlier this month had established an Asia Training Center, to provide training programs for regulation authority staff in Asian countries.

     After the presentations, the session moderator concluded that he felt closer partnerships between countries and organizations are vitally important to share know-how about infectious diseases in Asia.

     This is the third conference on this issue, following the first and second meetings held on Japan's southern island of Okinawa in 2014 and 2015.

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