STI key drivers of Asean ’s growth

COOPERATION. Science and technology ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) held the 75th Meeting of Asean Committee on Science and Technology at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. (Contributed photo)

THE Philippines and Singapore will play major roles in advancing the healthcare ecosystem of Southeast Asia.

The two countries jointly chaired the Asean Diagnostics (Dx) Development Initiative to co-develop and implement diagnostic products among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-member states to address unmet clinical needs of the 10-member Asean economies.

The Philippines is the host of the Asean Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines and Traditional Medicines Innovation (Asean-NDI).

The Asean-recognized initiative is mandated to advance the Asean-led health product innovation in the areas of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to improve health ecosystem of the region. It is managed by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.

The Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub, on the other hand, is Singapore’s initiative that aims to accelerate the transformation of innovations into clinically validated diagnostic devices that are ready for market adoption.

The Asean Dx Development Initiative was endorsed at this year’s Asean Committee of Science and Technology meeting.

As part of the implementation, a network of key opinion leaders, experts and strategic stakeholders from each Asean-member state jointly formed a strategic planning panel (SPP).

The SPP, which is comprised of three members from each Asean-member state, will help develop strategic areas of need and facilitate the development and delivery of diagnostics within Asean.

The panel conducted its first inaugural meeting last month in Singapore where the criteria, plans and focus areas were identified.

The initial key diseases identified were infectious diseases such as dengue, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and malaria.

Moreover, the Asean Dx Development Initiative will call for project proposals in early 2019.

It will gather technologies, resources, public and private sector entities to co-fund and develop diagnostics solutions to address the unmet public health needs of Asean nations.

In her speech during the opening ceremony of the Asean Committee on Science and Technology (Cost) 75th Meeting held in Cebu, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Rowena Christina Guevara emphasized the significance of science, technology and innovation (STI) as one of the key drivers towards socio-cultural development and economic growth of Asean as one community.

Guevara, who is the incoming Asean Cost chairman, said many initiatives have been done to boost Asean’s STI, which have accelerated the trade and growth of Asean economies.

She said that in the past nine years, the Asean-member states have steadily been improving in the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) ranking, according to the World Economic Forum (See separate story, page 26).

Six out of 10 Asean-member states were included in the top 50 percent of the 140 countries surveyed for GCI and Singapore consistently ranked second over the past five years.

Guevara vowed that with Asean STI plan of action, they will continue to strengthen synergy among the academe, research institutions and private sectors for technology transfer and commercialization.

They also aim to enhance people-to-people connectivity, reinforce engagement of women and youth in STI, nurture STI enterprises to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and raise public awareness to enhance Asean science and technology cooperation. (KOC)


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