The Centre for Health Security hosted a panel discussion for health security scholar Dr Sara Davies to launch her latest book, Containing Contagion: The Politics of Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia, at the Australian Institute of International Affairs in Canberra on 2 April 2019.
In her presentation, Dr Davies emphasised the importance of building political cooperation to prepare, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.
“This book argues that regional cooperation to contain infectious disease outbreaks is possible and desirable,” she said.
“ASEAN states responded positively to sharing national and subnational surveillance and reporting of infectious disease outbreaks. This was for both endemic and emerging diseases, to neighbouring states and the WHO community.”
Dr Davies highlighted positive examples of states engaging with the concept of “health security” and cooperating with the World Health Organisation during disease outbreaks. However, she said, openness about disease outbreak events requires trust between states and their their citizens, and between neighbouring states.
“Effective regional cooperation comes from regular interaction and the normalisation of communication between local health care workers and mid-ranking Ministry of Health officials, as well as senior political leaders,” she said.
Dr Davies’s book focuses particularly on the development and implementation within the ASEAN area of the Asia-Pacific Strategy for Emerging Infectious Disease in the years following the SARS outbreak, up to 2010. It treats many issues of capacity development, national policy and regional cooperation that remain highly relevant for Australia’s Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific region.
Dr Davies is an Associate Professor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University, and a former Australian Research Council Future Fellow.
She was joined on a panel discussion about issues arising from her presentation by Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott of the University of Sydney, Dr Anna Okello of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and Dr Meru Sheel, a Westpac Research Fellow at the Australian National University.