Networking in the Greater Mekong Subregion on Policies for Public Health
Over 700 participants gathered at the University of Public Health in Yangon on September 28-29 for the 5th International Conference on Public Health among GMS Countries. This event brought together leaders, academics, and professionals from the greater Mekong subregion: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, including China. Building on last year’s conference in Kunming, the theme this year was “Evidence-Based Health Policy: Current Status and Future Prospects.” This event marked the first-ever regional public health event in Myanmar, and an important step in making health policy a high priority in regional cooperation.
Participants were welcomed by University of Public Health Rector Nay Soe Maung followed by keynote addresses by Myanmar Health Minister Pe Thet Khin and CMB President Lincoln Chen. In his address, Dr. Chen emphasized the role of knowledge in producing good health. He observed that the average life span for people in the GMS region has more than doubled in the past century, due in large measure to new research and effective knowledge application. He however cautioned that the current medical systems, especially public health education, is unprepared for the region’s “triple tsunami” of demographic, epidemiologic, and disability transitions. He called the participants to lead as “knowledge soldiers for good health,” collaborating regionally for health development equitably shared.
During the conference, panels focused on public health competencies and the challenges of universal health coverage. Former Myanmar Health Minister Kwaw Myint, WHO South East Asia Regional Office Director Samlee Plianbangchang, and former SEARO Regional Director U KoKo also participated. A special meeting of 40 HealthSpace.Asia members organized by CMB staff member Piya Hanvoravongchai featured a guest presentation by CMB Trustee Tom Inui about new developments in IT-facilitated health development.