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: October 2023
HWG Plenary Meeting (SOM3, August 2023):
The HWG convenes twice per annum. The first HWG plenary meeting and related policies dialogues were held in Palm Springs, California, USA, in February during SOM1 2023. The second HWG plenary meeting and related workshops were held in Seattle, Washington, USA in August during SOM3 2023.
Health officials from APEC’s member economies exchanged views and shared best practices on topics that included vaccination across the life course, regulatory harmonization of medical products and health supply chain resilience, strengthening health systems for pandemic preparedness, One Health approach and its economic links, health and economic impacts of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), mental wellness and healthy aging, telehealth, digital health policies of interoperability and cyber security, climate change and health, cervical cancer elimination, family planning (smart families), gender and health equity.
Representatives from the private sector, ABAC, WHO, World Bank, ASEAN, and ESCAP were also invited to share their views and feedback.
13th High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy (SOM3, August 2023)
The HWG organized APEC’s 13th High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy (HLMHE13) on 6 August 2023 during SOM3 in Seattle, chaired by the Hon. Xavier Becerra, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services of the United States.
Health ministers and their representatives from 18 APEC member economies joined the panellists from the ABAC, WHO, and industries to share their experiences in making the investment case for financing health systems including Primary Health Care (PHC) and the key challenges in mobilizing and allocating resources for integrated investments in health systems. They also provided recommendations to strengthen public-private partnerships contribute to creating sustainable financing models for health systems strengthening and PHC.
A roundtable on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPR) and Primary Health Care (PHC) was also held to address the intersection of PHC, universal health coverage and pandemic preparedness and response, or health security, including specific successes, challenges, and lessons learned.
With regard to the HWG and APEC’s governance, the HLMHE13 agreed that the work of the Regulatory Harmonization Steering Committee (RHSC), APEC Harmonization Center (AHC) and APEC Health Sciences Academy (HeSAY) should continue in APEC. The Chair asked health ministers to coordinate with their APEC senior officials and relevant agencies in their economy to finalize the form for these activities.