APEC Leaders’ Statement on Health Security
21 October 2003
In Los Cabos, we, APEC Leaders, “acknowledged that investing in health will benefit economic growth”, and we “instructed Ministers to build on work underway to establish a regional public health surveillance network and an early warning system to monitor and respond to critical disease outbreaks in the region, and critical threats such as bio-terrorism.”
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak this year, which had grave economic consequences for the region, demonstrated the importance of prevention, surveillance/detection, and coordinated responses to disease outbreaks, whether naturally occurring, like SARS, or intentionally caused, like the 2001 anthrax incidents in the United States. APEC’s Infectious Disease Strategy, agreed at Shanghai in October 2001, already laid the groundwork for a commitment to health security measures against both naturally occurring and intentionally caused disease outbreaks.
We will work to strengthen our public health infrastructure to detect, respond to, and prevent bio-terrorism and naturally occurring disease outbreaks. We will protect our populations from dangerous pathogens, and secure dangerous pathogens against diversion. We will safeguard materials, equipment, technology, and expertise applicable to biological weapons to prevent their diversion to criminal purposes.
We commit to take effective domestic measures to protect public health and undertake, where appropriate, cooperative efforts that may involve both government and nongovernment institutions, working with and through international conventions and fora, including action to:
• Pursue focused efforts to monitor diseases, contain outbreaks, especially those that could have international consequences, and coordinate responses via mechanisms such as the APEC Emerging Infections Network and, in the event of a disease outbreak, in collaboration with relevant multilateral organizations.
• Ensure a high level of physical security, accountability, and safety with respect to storage, use, and transfer of dangerous biological pathogens, consistent with current national and international efforts.
• Establish an effective code of domestic ethical and operational conduct for bio-scientists or promote such codes where they already exist.
• Strengthen – or introduce where they do not exist – laws, regulations and enforcement mechanisms to require strict export and import controls on dualuse biological materials and equipment, and criminalize offensive weapons activity.
We welcome the establishment by Singapore and
the United States of a new Regional Emerging Disease
Intervention (REDI) Center based in Singapore to serve as a
regional resource for training and research. The Center will
help us build our individual and collective capacity and
hence will facilitate our cooperative efforts to monitor,
respond to, and prevent critical infectious disease threats
in the Asia Pacific region.