by Gianna Gayle Herrera Amul and Tikki Pang
The revised IHR and the capacities to implement them are critical for global health security. However, there is a dearth of literature about regional initiatives that support strengthening capacities for IHR implementation. To fill this gap, this study utilises a mixed-methods approach to present an overview of the progress of ASEAN member states in developing their capacities for implementing the IHR according to: (1) country-reported data to the WHO from 2010 to 2016, and; (2) the grey literature from 2004 to 2017 on WHO and ASEAN-led initiatives to build ASEAN member states’ capacities. Despite limitations, ASEAN is developing into a proactive entity with the region’s disaster management and response framework offering a gateway towards a multi-sectoral approach to pandemic preparedness, one that goes beyond the health sector and towards inclusive and coordinated emergency responses. There is an increasing regional trend in initiatives towards integrating pandemic preparedness and response with disaster management and emergency response. While good progress has been made by some countries in strengthening capacities, there is still a need to narrow the substantive gaps to prevent these from becoming the ‘Achilles heel’ of regional preparedness and resilience in the face of future epidemics of infectious diseases.