The emergence of regional and global health epidemics—including severe acute respiratory syndrome, avian influenza and H1N1 influenza—impacts not only the health sector but also agriculture, trade, tourism, transportation and business. APEC's wide-ranging economic work program makes it uniquely positioned to address the multi-sectoral impact of today's health threats.

In October 2003, APEC established the Health Task Force (HTF) to help address health-related threats to economies' trade and security, focusing mainly on emerging infectious diseases, including naturally occurring and man-made diseases.

In 2007, after a review of the APEC fora, the HTF was upgraded in status to become the Health Working Group (HWG).

To respond to the recommendations of the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE), the HWG and Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) met in March 2011 in Washington DC, with the purpose of exploring possible areas of cooperation.

The HWG has launched several initiatives to introduce more substantive policy discussions into the working group’s activities as well better integrating APEC’s work within the broader global health agenda.

In addition to engaging with other APEC fora and international organizations like the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Association of South East Asian Nations, the HWG has positioned itself as a regional health forum dedicated to demonstrating the value of health to economic growth and development and to building awareness of the return on investment on health innovation.

The HWG’s mandate, goal and the objectives are as follows:


The mandate of the Health Working Group is to work with partners to improve people’s health and well-being, aiming to promote trade, security, inclusive growth and development in the APEC region.


The goal of the Health Working Group is to help reduce the impact of health-related threats to the economy, trade and security of member economies. The Health Working Group aims to strengthen health systems to increase their efficiency, responsiveness and resilience to achieve and maintain universal health coverage.


  • To enhance preparedness and response to public health emergencies and disasters, including prevention and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases
  • To strengthen health systems to improve accessibility, sustainability and quality of healthcare
  • To support healthy populations across the life-course, including the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases and improved maternal, newborn and child health
  • To encourage and facilitate collaboration between health and other sectors, other APEC fora and international health bodies

Last page update: April 2019

Current Activities

The HWG held 2 meetings in 2018. The first took place in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, from 27 February to 3 March 2018. The second HWG meeting also took place in Port Moresby, on 12–17 August 2018 and was attended by 17 member economies. The first meeting of 2019 was held in Santiago, Chile, on 28 February to 1 March. The 2019 HWG meeting was co-chaired by Ms. Tammy Bell (Canada) and Ms. Paula Daza (Chile).  

The HWG adopted the 2019 HWG Work Plan, which is aligned with the HWG’s objectives as well as the 2019 APEC theme of Chile, “Connecting People, Building the Future”—specifically the third policy priority “to aim for inclusive growth”. For 2019, the HWG’s mandate will be actualized through activities focused on:

  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Enhanced Access to Care and Services
  • Strengthening Health Systems for Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development

2019 Priorities

The Priorities are summarised by the HWG’s 2019 Work Plan as follows:

  • Policy Discussion on Immunization in the Asia-Pacific Region
  • APEC Statement on Universal Health Coverage
  • Policy Dialogue on ‘Health Across the Life Course’ –Prevention Measures to support an ageing population within APEC economies
  • Continued collaboration with other APEC fora on Mental Health
  • High-level Meeting on Health and the Economy with the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum and Joint Statement
  • Agreement on process for endorsing concept notes and revised Guidelines for HWG’s consideration and ranking for concept notes
  • Review APEC Guidelines for Engagement with the Private Sector
  • Preliminary discussion on post-Strategic Plan 2016-2020

In the second HWG meeting of 2018, the HWG also approved the reporting requirements for the Healthy Asia-Pacific 2020 Initiative (HAP2020), which was endorsed by ministers in 2014. Economies are now selecting reporting indicators and submitting baseline data, which will be reported on again in 2020–2021 at the completion of HAP2020.

Related News

See all news



The “APEC Action Plan on the Prevention and Response to Avian and Influenza Pandemics” was developed in 2006 by the Health Task Force. The plan was endorsed at a special APEC Ministerial Meeting on Avian and Influenza Pandemics held in Da Nang, Viet Nam in May 2006.



Contact Us

Mr Ken Kandap WAI

Executive Manager, Strategic Policy Division, Department of Health, Waigani, National Capital District,

Assisted by Mrs Agnes Pawiong,

Ms Tammy BELL

Director, Bilateral Engagement, Summits and Trade Division
Office of International Affairs for Health Portfolio
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada

Mr Johnny LIN

Program Director