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 2018

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. Both HWG meetings were co-chaired by Mr. Ken Wai (PNG) and Ms. Sarah Lawley (Canada).

The HWG adopted the 2018 HWG Work Plan, which is aligned with the HWG’s objectives as well as the 2018 APEC theme, “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future”—specifically the second policy priority “Promoting Inclusive and Sustainable Growth”. In 2018, the HWG’s mandate was actualized through activities focused on:

  • Achieving universal health coverage by strengthening primary healthcare
  • Mitigating global health threats by action to antimicrobial resistance and tuberculosis
  • Supporting healthy populations

2018 Priorities

During the first HWG meeting of 2018, member economies formed several sub-working groups to implement intersessional work relating to the HWG’s 2018 priorities, which include: 

  • A Statement on Tuberculosis (TB) for the UN High Level Meeting on TB
  • APEC End Tuberculosis Collaboration Framework
  • Information Sharing Session on APEC’s Activities on Cervical Cancer
  • Policy Dialogue on Investing in MDR-TB
  • Policy Dialogue on Mental Health
  • High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy Joint Statement
  • Concept Note Operating Protocols

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. 


The key focus for the HWG in 2018 was introducing more substantive policy discussions at the HWG. The first discussion was about tuberculosis (TB) in the Asia-Pacific Region. This policy discussion resulted in a unanimous agreement from HWG member economies to develop an APEC Statement on Tuberculosis for the United Nations High Level Meeting (HLM) on TB. The statement was presented by Papua New Guinea on behalf of the APEC economies at the HLM on TB held on September 26, 2018 in New York.

In addition, the HWG hosted one stand-alone policy dialogue on mental health and a high-level roundtable on mobilizing a multi-sectoral response to antimicrobial resistance on the margins of the second HWG meeting of 2018.

The HWG elected Ms. Paula Daza (Chile) as its new vice-chair for 2019–2020.

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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.