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 2020

Current Activities

The Health Working Group (HWG) held two meetings in 2020 on the margins of the First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) held in Putrajaya, Malaysia (the Meeting Report can be found here), and the first time ever online due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Both meetings surpassed quorum.

The 2020 HWG Work Addendum reflects the importance of leveraging the group’s unique perspective as a regional health forum dedicated to combating COVID-19 through joint efforts, demonstrating the value of health to economic growth and development and to building awareness of the return on investment of health innovation.

The HWG 2020 concentrates on the discussion on COVID-19 issue, and so it endorsed a Statement in March 2020. In the Statement, the HWG APEC economies, recognize the major efforts and actions undertaken by all affected APEC economies to control the spread of COVID-19 and reaffirm the central importance of collaboration at all levels to combat this infectious disease and commit to working together to bring this epidemic under control as fast as possible. To reach this goal, the HWG continues to urge the exchange of best practices in COVID-19 response between member economies. 

These activities spanned across a variety of governance, policy and technical deliverables.

Governance deliverables

HWG policy/technical deliverables

  • Policy discussion: Surveillance Strategies and Management of the Outbreak of COVID-19 (SOM1 2020)
  • Policy Discussion: Shifting Focus From Vaccine Hesitancy To Vaccine Confidence (SOM1 2020)
  • Policy Research: Increasing Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention in the APEC Region: a Literature Review of the Economic Impacts (US Self-funded Project)

Cross-fora policy/technical deliverables

  • Joint HWG – HRDWG Discussion - Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being with the APEC Digital Hub for Mental Health (SOM1 2020)
  • HWG Co-Chair Office presentation on cross-fora collaboration at Tourism Working Group (TWG) and Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) meetings (Virtual Meetings)
  • Collaboration with Life Sciences and Innovation Forum (LSIF) to develop the10th  APEC High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy (HLM10) Joint Statement, with the theme “Building a Resilient Asia-Pacific in a COVID-19 World”.
  • Agreement to form sub-working group Digital Heath”, which is focus on the digital economy and technology in promoting health and smart living for aging populations.

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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

Dato’ Dr Chong Chee Kheong

Deputy Director General of Health (Public Health)
Ministry of Health Malaysia, Putrajaya, Malaysia
[email protected]
Assisted by Ms Nurain Khairi [email protected]

Mr Michael PEARSON

Branch Head, Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio
Government of Canada
[email protected]

Mr Johnny LIN

Program Director
[email protected]