The FINANCIAL — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on May 4 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a strategic partnership to strengthen health security and promote universal health coverage (UHC) in a rapidly aging Asia and the Pacific.
The MOU was signed by ADB President Takehiko Nakao and JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka during a host country event at the 50th Annual Meeting of ADB’s Board of Governors in Yokohama. The event, focused on actions for sustainable development in the aging region, was also attended by Japan’s State Minister of Finance Minoru Kihara, according to ADB.
“The region has made remarkable progress in economic development and poverty reduction. However, Asia still faces various development challenges, including improved access to health services and efficient health systems,” said Mr. Nakao. “Through this partnership with JICA, ADB will step up its support for universal health coverage with strong attention to the region’s aging population.”
Mr. Nakao highlighted the key principles of UHC that ADB has been pursuing, such as inclusiveness, integrated care, sustainability, innovation, private sector participation, and multi-sectoral approach.
The MOU aims to enhance collaboration between ADB and JICA in promoting the health and well-being of people of all ages through UHC as well as strengthening health security through better preparedness and response to public health emergencies such as avian influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). It will place an emphasis on tackling the specific heath issues of the elderly, such as the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases and dementia. In doing so, it will leverage the unique experience of Japan, which achieved 100% coverage of national health insurance in 1961 and has a rich history of long-term care and community-based integrated care system for the elderly.
“The Government of Japan has been focusing on strengthening responsiveness to public health emergencies and attaining UHC with better preparedness for emergencies on many occasions, while promoting the Asia Health and Wellbeing Initiative,” said Mr. Kihara. “I expect that ADB and Japan will further accelerate our collaboration for working with developing countries in the health sector based on this agreement.”
“One of JICA’s cooperation priorities on aging is to introduce an Integrated Community Care System, which integrates health promotion, disease prevention, medical care, and social participation at the community level,” said Mr. Kitaoka. “This approach also reflects Japan’s support for the people-centered concept of human security, which ensures that individuals can live happily and with dignity.”
Under this agreement, ADB and JICA will explore opportunities for joint technical assistance in health policy formulation, health workforce development, and institutional capacity building for health and long-term care. The two institutions will also look at opportunities for cofinancing in basic health and welfare-related infrastructure such as medical institutions and water and sanitation facilities, among other areas. In addition, mutual learning and knowledge exchange will be promoted in collaboration with partners from both the public and private sectors.
The partnership is expected to contribute to the achievement of Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals on good health and well-being. ADB and JICA will hold annual consultation meetings to review progress on MOU implementation and discuss further areas of collaboration.