Experts debate global health law challenges affecting the asian region

1 May 2012

Sydney Law School has joined with the International Development Law Organisation and the Faculties of Law, and of Public Health at Thammasat University in Thailand to co-sponsor a regional conference exploring emerging health law issues affecting the asia pacific region.

The conference initiative, entitled 'Globalizing Asia: Health Law, Governance, and Policy- Issues, Approaches, and Gaps' was convened by Thammasat University in Bangkok on 16-18 April, and featured experts from over a dozen countries. The conference was also funded by the Rockefellar Foundation, the Western Pacific and South East Asian regional offices of the World Health Organisation, and Sydney Law School.

Prof. Dr. Somkit Lertpaithoon, President of Thammasat University, addresses the conference.

Experts from across the region debated a broad range of health law issues relating to pandemics of infectious disease; access to water; regulation of nanotechnology; privacy and e-health; the global regulation of trade and its impact on health, including regional experiences with access to medicines under World Trade Organisation agreements; non-communicable diseases; and the development of model public health laws. The over-arching theme, introduced on the first day by Dr Sima Samar, Head of the Independent Human Rights Council of Afghanistan, was the Right to Health, and the obligation this imposes on governments to create the conditions for the highest attainable standard of health.

l to r: Professor Roger Magnusson, Sydney Law School; Ms Naomi Burke-Shyne, Senior Legal Officer, IDLO; Genevieve Howse, principal Howse Fleming Legal, Australia (conference rapporteur); Professor William Aldis, Faculty of Public Health, Thammasat University, Bangkok; Mr David Patterson, Head, social development programs, IDLO, Rome; Professor Archie Alexander, visiting scholar, Faculty of Public Health, Thammasat University.

Conference participants represented a range of countries within the asia pacific region, including India, Afghanistan, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, China, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Philippines, as well as Italy, Switzerland, and the United States.

Panel members Mr David Patterson (Head of social development programs, IDLO), Professor Roger Magnusson (Sydney Law School), and Ms Kajal Bhardwaj (Legal adviser on access to essential medicines, India).

Dr Nyoman Rai, Senior Adviser to the Director of the World Health Organisation's Regional Office for South East Asia.

The meeting concluded with a discussion of possible responses to the challenges identified by participants. The meeting report will be published by mid-2012.

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

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