AHF & Civil Society Unite ahead of ASEAN Summit

In Global Advocacy, Thailand by Fiona Ip

AHF’s Marie Ko addresses the ACSC/APF conference


For the third straight year, AHF participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples Forum, which seeks to address key regional issues, including human rights, development, trade, environment, youth, and culture.

Over 1,100 participants from various civil society organizations, NGOs and people’s movements gathered in Bangkok, Thailand – the site of this year’s ASEAN summit in October – to collaborate on a joint statement with recommendations to ASEAN leaders.

“There were many critical issues discussed, including the recent push for Universal Health Coverage [UHC] by many global health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations,” said AHF Asia Advocacy Manager Marie Ko. “While we of course support access to healthcare for all, we must be very careful that infectious diseases to not get lost in the mix and lose precious resources. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are just a few examples of diseases that need to be kept high on the public health agenda.”

Another key issue discussed was drug pricing and availability, which affects people from all walks of life worldwide. To help shed light on the effects of pharma greed on actual lives, AHF Thailand organized a screening and panel discussion for “DRUG$: The Price We Pay”—an AHF-produced documentary on how devastating high drug prices can be on patients and their families.

“Drug companies and their decades-long patents block affordable generic drugs and are a key driver for unaffordable medicines across the globe,” added Ko. “We hope by continuing to educate people through our “DRUG$” film, governments will start to wake up and begin ensuring Big Pharma’s rights aren’t placed over the lives of patients. Everyone deserves a chance to be healthy without being ruined financially.”

Due to unforeseen logistical issues, the Thai government withdrew sponsorship for the forum one week prior to its start, forcing organizers to raise funds and find a last-minute venue. AHF was the first among a handful of donors to step up and ensure the conference could still take place. The 35th ASEAN summit is slated to for Oct. 31-Nov. 4 in Bangkok.


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