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Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security co-hosts Southeast Asia Strategic Multilateral Biosecurity Dialogue

Center News


June 29, 2023 – The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security co-convened government officials and other stakeholders for a Southeast Asia Strategic Multilateral Biosecurity Dialogue meeting from April 26-28 in Cebu, Philippines. It was the first in-person meeting of this series since SARS-CoV-2 emerged in 2019.

The Center co-hosted the Track 1.5 biosecurity dialogue with the University of the Philippines Manila College of Medicine Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Health Security Initiative. Many of the discussions occurred through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic, with participants sharing experiences and lessons that can translate into future action to develop regional resilience to large-scale health emergencies.

Representatives attended from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United State, as well as from regional and international organizations, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the World Health Organization (WHO). In accordance with the dialogue format, participants offered insights based on their personal expertise and did not represent the views of their respective governments in an official capacity.

Key themes emerged during discussions, including:

  • the importance of a "whole-of-government" approach and multisectoral collaboration in terms of establishing resilience to biological threats, particularly pandemics
  • concern about the unregulated risks associated with some advanced life science research
  • the need for more high-level, international coordination on large-scale biological threats, particularly considering the inequities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Finally, participants emphasized that progress made during the COVID-19 pandemic—

including on disease surveillance systems and capacities; advancements in medical countermeasures; collaborations; and global health security governance frameworks—will make little impact in future health emergencies if they are not implemented in a sustainable fashion.

Read the meeting report.


About the Southeast Asia Strategic Multilateral Biosecurity Dialogue

This dialogue considers Southeast Asia’s increasingly complex biosecurity risk landscape, as countries explore how they can work together to strengthen preparedness and resilience for a broad scope of biological threats, including those that are natural, accidental, or deliberate. Meetings are organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, with support from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (US Department of Defense).