The three ministers discussed joint efforts in response to general health care, the aging population, and cooperative ways to fight epidemic influenza and new and re-emerging infectious diseases -
The Ministry of Health and Welfare held the 6th Tripartite Health Ministers Meeting in Seoul on November 24th.
The annual meeting is a consultative body established in 2007 to conceive joint cooperation against the threat of influenza, with this year being the third time it was held in Korea.
The first and fourth meetings were hosted by Korea, the second and fifth by China, and the third by Japan.
Participants of the meeting included Korean Health Vice Minister(Minister duties vicarious-execution) Lee Youngchan; China's Minister of Health and Family Planning Commission Li Bin; Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura; World Health Organization (WHO) Director for the Western Pacific Region Shin Young-soo; and Deputy Secretary-General of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat Chen Feng as an observer.
The significance of this year’s meeting was the tripartite ministers sharing their experiences and agreeing to seek ways of cooperation regarding general health care and the aging population, both of which are internationally emerging issues.
General health care is the most comprehensive approach to public health, and the fact that the range of tripartite health care cooperation is expandable into the general health care system is meaningful.
After evaluating the high level of cooperative potential that adopting this health care system has for the three nations, the tripartite ministers came to an agreement that a variety of exchanges and cooperation is necessary for medical resource management and service delivery systems.
The three officials also decided that they should come together to deal with the challenges of increasing chronic diseases and financial sustainability crises that are expected to occur due to aging population issues and changes in population structures.
As the three nations share cultural and racial similarities, the ministers concurred on the possibility of conducting joint research on geriatric dementia.
In addition, the tripartite ministers concluded that their joint efforts against infectious diseases has provided effective control over the spread of the Influenza A virus in 2009, and the avian influenza H7N9 in China, early this year. Based on such successful previous results, they signed a memorandum to expand the current range of cooperation to cover not only epidemic influenza but also incorporate new and re-emerging infectious diseases as well.
The health ministries of the three countries reaffirmed their determination to cooperate on the prevention and control of chronic diseases, and on the Millennium Development Goals in the health care field.
Before the actual tripartite meeting, vice minister Lee also had separate meetings with his Chinese and Japanese counterparts, and WHO regional director Shin, to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Korea.
He exchanged ideas with Chinese Minister Li Bin on ways of expanding bilateral communication channels in the field of senior policies and medical services, and on close cooperation between disease control centers of their respective countries.
The Chinese Minister showed a deep interest in Korea’s health care system and long-term insurance plans for the elderly as she visited a nursing home for the elderly, the National Health Insurance Service, and the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service on the 23rd and 25th.
Health vice minister Lee made arrangements with his Japanese counterpart Norihisa Tamura to continue their exchanges regarding low-birth rates and the aging population, and also to strengthen cooperation on digitizing the medical diagnosis procedure for use in health insurance review processes, something Japan has been showing a deep interested in.
In a meeting with Director Shin Young-soo, the minister discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between Korea and the WHO to send aid to the Philippines which was recently hit by Typhoon Haiyan, and to also support their health care system in general.
After the Tripartite Health Ministers Meeting ended, Vice Minister Lee attended an international forum on enhancing general health care, and expressed high expectations for general health care being included in the new tripartite cooperation agendas.