Former WHO Directors, communicable disease experts on board for Southeast Asia Mission

Professor David Heymann CBE, Professor Robyn Alders AO, Dr Claudia Surjadjaja, Dr Sigit Priohutomo, Ambassador Blair Exell, and Deputy Assistant of Disease Prevention and Control, Dr Naalih Kelsum.​
Dr Sigit Priohutomo, Ambassador Blair Exell, and Deputy Assistant of Disease Prevention and Control, Dr Naalih Kelsum.​

The Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security’s second scoping mission to Southeast Asia begins this week, with Professor David Heymann CBE and Dr Guénaël Rodier co-leading the study. Dr Rodier is outgoing Director of the Department of Country Health Emergency Preparedness and International Health Regulations, Health Emergencies Programme at the World Health Organization (WHO), and will lead the Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos legs of the mission.

Dr Rodier is retiring from his WHO role at the end of May, which has allowed Australia to request his participation in this phase of the design for the Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific Region. Dr Rodier said “Targeted support and coordination can significantly reduce the communicable disease burden, particularly in the Mekong delta.

This scoping study anticipates identifying successful local and regional programs and interventions which present an opportunity for Australia to contribute to the region’s surveillance and response capacity.”

David Heymann will lead through Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia, including discussions in Bangkok on regional programs and cooperation. Professor Heymann is also the head of the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House and Professor of Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“Regional surveillance programs across Southeast Asia have become much stronger in recent years, particularly following the SARS outbreak, but we hope that Australia’s Initiative can support countries in building on that progress.”

Australia’s Ambassador for Regional Health Security, Mr Blair Exell, will join the Indonesia leg of the mission for discussions with Indonesian Ministries and Indonesia based multilateral partners.

The Southeast Asia scoping mission is the second of two scoping missions, following the successful completion to of the study covering the Pacific and Papua New Guinea.

The Southeast Asia study will have a strong focus on animal health and disease surveillance networks, and will conclude in June.