Health Working Group

 The emergence of regional and global health epidemics—including severe acute respiratory syndrome, avian influenza and H1N1 influenza—impacts not only the health sector but also agriculture, trade, tourism, transportation and business. APEC's wide-ranging economic work program makes it uniquely positioned to address the multi-sectoral impact of today's health threats.

In October 2003, APEC established the Health Task Force (HTF) to help address health-related threats to economies' trade and security, focusing mainly on emerging infectious diseases, including naturally occurring and man-made diseases.

In 2007, after a review of the APEC fora, the HTF was upgraded in status to become the Health Working Group (HWG).

To respond to the recommendations of the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE), the HWG and Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) met in March 2011 in Washington DC, with the purpose of exploring possible areas of cooperation.

In 2015, a revised terms of reference for the HWG was approved by the SCE.

The HWG’s mandate, goal and the objectives are as follows:


The mandate of the Health Working Group is to work with partners to improve people’s health and well-being, aiming to promote trade, security, inclusive growth and development in the APEC region.


The goal of the Health Working Group is to help reduce the impact of health-related threats to the economy, trade and security of member economies. The Health Working Group aims to strengthen health systems to increase their efficiency, responsiveness and resilience to achieve and maintain universal health coverage.


  • To enhance preparedness and response to public health emergencies and disasters, including prevention and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases
  • To strengthen health systems to improve accessibility, sustainability and quality of healthcare
  • To support healthy populations across the life-course, including the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases and improved maternal, newborn and child health
  • To encourage and facilitate collaboration between health and other sectors, other APEC fora and international health bodies
Last page update: August 2017

Current Activities

The HWG’s first 2017 meeting was held in Nha Trang, Viet Nam, on 23-24 February.

HWG Vice Chair, A/Prof. Tran Thi Giang Huong, welcomed the attending delegations on behalf of the Viet Nam Health Minister. She addressed the high profile of health in government policy, acknowledging it as the most precious asset of individuals and of society.

She cited Viet Nam’s impressive progress in improving the health status of its people in terms of the containment of SARS and control of other dangerous epidemics, and in terms of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5—reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

She listed the challenges faced by many other APEC economies, such as the threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, the increase of noncommunicable diseases, aging populations, climate change, antimicrobial resistance and food safety.

She emphasized the need for close cooperation among APEC economies to achieve universal health coverage, and in pursuing health care financing reform towards systems that are efficient and equitable for APEC populations.

She insisted that the key to achieving this is to gain support from political leaders, parliaments, governments, related ministries and of society as a whole.

The APEC 2017 theme adopted by Viet Nam should be reflected in the activities proposed by the HWG in 2017:


  • Health in all policies to strengthen sustainable development


  • Progress on universal health coverage in APEC economies toward a “Healthy Asia Pacific 2020”;
  • An integrated approach for noncommunicable diseases.
  • Sustainable healthcare financing to contribute in human capital development ,
  • Multisectoral action to achieve health-related 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Expected Outcomes for 2017

  • Two HWG meetings
  • A statement of the HWGLSIF Joint High Level Meeting (HLM7)
  • Health Policy Dialogue on Aging and NCD
  • Health Policy Dialog on TB and MDR TB
  • Implementation of the Healthy Asia Pacific 2020 Roadmap

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The “APEC Action Plan on the Prevention and Response to Avian and Influenza Pandemics” was developed in 2006 by the Health Task Force. The plan was endorsed at a special APEC Ministerial Meeting on Avian and Influenza Pandemics held in Da Nang, Viet Nam in May 2006.



Contact Us

Mr Ken Kandap WAI

Executive Manager, Strategic Policy Division, Department of Health, Waigani, National Capital District,

Assisted by Mrs Agnes Pawiong,

Ms Sarah Jean LAWLEY

Director General, Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio
Government of Canada

Mr Johnny LIN

Program Director