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30 November 2021, 14:00 - 16:00 UTC +7 | Open meeting

Webpage banner with a photo of a doctor giving a patient a vaccine shot

The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly exposed the inequalities between, and within, countries in access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics. The pandemic also has accentuated the existing weaknesses and deficiencies in the health systems of countries, in terms of financing, human resources and technologies. The World Health Organization (WHO), other United Nations (UN) entities and multilateral development banks have initiated concrete steps to support countries in promoting access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics through resource mobilization, coordination and international cooperation. However, much more needs to be done to ensure equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.

Against this background, this Regional Conversation brings together member States, the UN system as well as other stakeholders to understand the impact of these initiatives on the region. The event is the start of a conversation that would identify gaps and challenges and ways to address them through actions at global, regional and national levels. The specific role of regional cooperation to enhance universal access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics will be explored. The Conversation is also expected to serve as forum for the UN system at large to share and consult Asia-Pacific member States on the implementation of various initiatives on the ground.

Some of the key questions to be addressed at the regional conversation include the following:

1. How can we build upon good examples of partnerships between research entities, academia and the private sector for rapid upscaling of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics?

2. What kinds of mechanisms could be developed or strengthened to promote pooled manufacture and procurement of vaccines and therapeutics?

3. How can countries help each other to develop their national capacities for the production of vaccines and therapeutics, and what regional standards and guidelines would be needed?

4. What are key points of intersection between trade laws and policies and vaccine manufacture, procurement and distribution, and how can this be managed within international law?

5. What needs to be in place in terms of logistics and planning at the ground level for rapid and equitable deployment of vaccination programmes?

6. What is the role of the UN system in supporting countries and how are WHO and the multilateral development banks supporting countries in this regard? How can the UN system better support countries in this regard?

Read our new blog which discusses how to mobilize resources and actions for equitable access to health services in Asia and the Pacific and highlights the actions being taken to achieve this: The battle to end the COVID-19 pandemic – is there light at the end of the tunnel?


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30 Nov 2021
Opening and Welcome Remarks
  • Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP
  • H.E. Helen Clark, Co-chair, Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response
  • H.E. Dr. Dante Saksono Harbuwono, Vice Minister of Health, Indonesia 
  • H.E. Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General, ASEAN
Panel Discussion and questions from the floor

Two rounds of questions to panelists with 4-5 minutes for answering each question. These will be followed by interactive discussions prompted by questions from the floor and the moderator.

Moderated by:

  • Mr. Srinivas Tata, Director, Social Development Division of ESCAP

Distinguished panelists:

  • Dr. Ann Lindstrand, Coordinator, Expanded Programme of Immunization, World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Dr. Benjamin CoghlanSenior Health Specialist, Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • Dr. Carlos Correa, Director-General, South Centre
  • Dr. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India
  • Dr. Anneke Schmider, Associate Fellow, Chatham House
Closing Remarks

Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP

Opening Remarks

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP
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Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana was appointed Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on 13 September 2018.

Prior to joining ESCAP, Ms. Alisjahbana was Professor of Economics at Universitas Padjadjaran in Bandung, Indonesia, a position she assumed in 2005. She joined Universitas Padjadjaran as a lecturer in 1988. Since 2016, she has served as Director for the Center for Sustainable Development Goals Studies at Universitas Padjadjaran and Vice Chair of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences.

She also serves on the Governing Board of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and member of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (Akademi Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia - AIPI), the Forum of Statistics Community (Forum Masyarakat Statistik or Advisory Council of the Indonesian Statistics), the International Advisory Board of the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies and Council Member of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI).

From 2009 to 2014, she was Minister of National Development Planning and the Head of the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), Indonesia. She served as Co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation from 2012 to 2014. From 2009 to 2014, she was Alternate Governor of the World Bank and Alternate Governor of the Asian Development Bank representing the government of Indonesia. In 2016, she was a member of the High Level Independent Team of Advisors to support the ECOSOC Dialogue on the longer term positioning of the United Nations Development System in the context of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Ms. Alisjahbana has been involved in various research projects and consultancies to the United Nations University/Institute for Advanced Study in Tokyo, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the European Commission, and the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Ms. Alisjahbana earned her Bachelor degree in Economics and Development Studies from Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia, a Masters degree in Economics from Northwestern University, USA and a Ph.D in Economics from University of Washington, USA. She was awarded the Mahaputra Adipradana Order (Bintang Mahaputra Adipradana) from the Republic of Indonesia, honorary brevet from the Indonesian Navy and honorary flight wing from the Indonesian Air Force.

Helen Clark
Helen Clark
Co-chair, Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response
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Helen Clark was Prime Minister of New Zealand for three successive terms from 1999–2008. 

Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister and as a Member of Parliament over 27 years, Helen Clark engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social, environmental, and cultural spheres. She advocated strongly for New Zealand’s comprehensive programme on sustainability and for tackling the problems of climate change. She was an active leader of her country’s foreign relations, engaging in a wide range of international issues.

In April 2009, Helen Clark became Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She was the first woman to lead the organisation, and served two terms there. At the same time, she was also Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of all UN funds, programmes, agencies, and departments working on development issues. As Administrator, she led UNDP to be ranked the most transparent global development organisation. She completed her tenure in 2017.

Helen Clark came to the role of Prime Minister after an extensive parliamentary and ministerial career. Prior to being elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 1981, Helen Clark taught in the Political Studies Department of the University of Auckland, from which she earlier graduated with her BA and MA (Hons) degrees.

Helen continues to be a strong voice for sustainable development, climate action, gender equality and women’s leadership, peace and justice, and action on pressing global health issues. In July 2020, she was appointed by the Director-General of the World Health Organisation as a Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, called for by the World Health Assembly, which reported in May this year. She chairs the boards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Organisation, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, and of other public good organisations and initiatives.

@HelenClarkNZ @HelenClarkNZ

Dante Saksono Harbuwono
Dante Saksono Harbuwono
Vice Minister of Health, Republic of Indonesia
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Dr. Dante Saksono Harbuwono, Sp.PD., Ph.D. is Vice Minister of Health, Republic of Indonesia. He was born in Temanggung on 23 March 1973. Dr.  Dante completed his medical doctor at Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia in 1997. In 2004, he completed his medical specialty in Endocrinology at Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, and in 2008 he earned Doctor of Philosophy at University of Yamanashi, Japan. He is a well-known health expert as a diabetic molecular expert. He was appointed as the Chief of Metabolic Disorder, Cardiovascular and Aging Cluster at Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia in 2017 until now. Meanwhile, He was also appointed as the Chief of the Diabetic Cluster the National Hospital, Rumah Sakit Cipto Mangunkusumo, in 2018.  In addition, Dr. Dante was appointed as a member of the Indonesia Presidential Medical Team in 2014 – a position which he has been serving until now. He was appointed as Research and Development Coordinator for the Endocrinology Association (PB PERKENI) in 2018-2021. And in 2018-2021, He was appointed as Chairperson of the Indonesia-Jakarta Raya Association of Endocrinology (Perkeni Jaya)

Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi
Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi
Secretary-General, ASEAN
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Dato Lim Jock Hoi was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam since 2006. During his tenure, he served as Brunei Darussalams Senior Official for the ASEAN Economic Community Pillar (SEOM), APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) and the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting). He was a member of the High Level Task Force on ASEAN Economic Integration (HLTF-EI) since 2001, serving as the HLTF-EI Chair in 2017. He was Brunei Darussalams Chief Negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), as well as for the P4, precursor to the TPP negotiations. Previously, he was also the Co-Chair during the negotiations for the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), and also served as Brunei Darussalams Chief Negotiator for the Brunei Darussalam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (BJEPA). From June 2011-2017, he was the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). He was also on the External Advisory Board for the ASEAN 2030 Study being undertaken by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

He entered the Government Service as an education officer in 1977 and served as principal of a Secondary School from 1981-1985. From February 2001-July 2005, he was appointed as Director-General, International Relations and Trade Development, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources. In September 2005, he was appointed as Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

He graduated from the City of London Polytechnic in B.Sc (Hons) Economics in 1976 and received his Post Graduate Certificate of Education in 1977.

He was awarded The Most Honourable Order of Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei, second Class (D.P.M.B) in 2007.

Eminent Speakers

Ann Lindstrand
Ann Lindstrand
Coordinator, Expanded Programme of Immunization, WHO
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Dr. Linstrand is a Pediatrician and specialist in Public Health and Social Medicine with a MPH from Harvard University and PhD from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Dr. Lindstrand is the Unit Head of the EPI program at WHO in Geneva since September 2018. She has worked for many years abroad in Mozambique, Angola, India and Guinea Conacry with Médecins Sans Frontieres. In French Guyana she was responsible for Maternal and Child Health programs 2004-2006. Between 1999 and 2002 she was the President of Médecins Sans Frontieres in Sweden, and member of the Board for 9 years. She has been a lecturer at Karolinska Institute in Global Pediatrics for 25 years and organized courses for young health professionals in Tanzania, Cuba and India. She is the author of Global Health-a textbook in public health. Before joining WHO she was the National Program Manager for Immunization and NITAG chair at the Public Health Agency of Sweden for five years. Until joining WHO she has been a practicing Pediatrician at one of the main hospitals in Stockholm and a senior Pediatrician for all preventive child health services in Stockholm, with main focus areas of work on migration and health and attitudes towards vaccination.

Benjamin Coghlan
Benjamin Coghlan
Senior Health Specialist, Asian Development Bank (ADB)
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Dr. Ben Coghlan is a public health physician and medical epidemiologist with 17 years’ experience strengthening health systems in Asia and the Pacific to address complex health threats such as emerging infectious disease, antimicrobial resistance, and undernutrition. Prior to his time at ADB, Ben was the Director of Health Security at the Burnet Institute in Australia. He received his medical degree from the University of Melbourne and holds master's degrees in Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Field Epidemiology.

Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa
Director-General, South Centre
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Dr. Carlos Correa is the Executive Director of the South Centre since July 2018. Formerly, he was the Centre’s Special Advisor on Trade and Intellectual Property (IP). He worked with the Argentine Government and was the Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Industrial Property and Economics, University of Buenos Aires (UBA).  He was a member of the UK Commission on IP Rights, the WHO Commission on IP, Innovation and Public Health and the FAO Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture. He has been a visiting professor at several universities, a consultant to various regional and international organizations and advised several governments on IP, innovation policy and public health. He is the author of numerous publications. Dr. Correa is a lawyer and an economist and holds a PhD in Law from the UBA.

@Correa_CEIDIE @Correa_CEIDIE

Srinath Reddy
Srinath Reddy
President, Public Health Foundation of India
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Prof. K. Srinath Reddy is President of the Public Health Foundation of India and formerly headed the Department of Cardiology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Under his leadership, PHFI has established five Indian Institutes of Public Health (IIPHs) in different regions of India, to advance multi-disciplinary public health education, research, health technologies and implementation support for strengthening health systems. Widely regarded as an international leader of preventive cardiology, he has been a researcher, teacher, policy enabler, advocate and activist who has worked to promote cardiovascular health, tobacco control, chronic disease prevention and healthy living across the lifespan.


He was appointed as the First Bernard Lown Visiting Professor of Cardiovascular Health at the Harvard School of Public Health in (2009-13) and presently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard (2014-2023) and the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University and Honorary Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney. He holds advisory positions in several national and international bodies and recently published a book “Make Health in India: Reaching A Billion Plus”. He has served on many WHO expert panels & has been the President of the World Heart Federation (2013-15). Prof. Reddy is currently a member of the Government of India Technical Taskforce for COVID-19 and an advisor to the Governments of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab on Public Health. He is the first Indian to be elected to the National Academy of Medicine (USA) and was awarded several prestigious international and national doctorates and fellowships.

Twitter icon @South_Centre

Anneke Schmider
Anneke Schmider
Associate Fellow, Chatham House
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Dr. Anneke Schmider is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, and has led global research and policy initiatives in the United Kingdom and at the World Health Organization, as well as for Australian Governments.

From her UK base, Anneke has delivered research for international development agencies and consortiums, including Chatham House, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the International Vaccine Institute in South Korea. She led the partnerships and submission processes for the Reform for Resilience Commission’s June Research Report, working closely with the Commission’s Hubs in the Asia Pacific and Europe, as well as institutional agencies such as the OECD.

At the World Health Organization, she led a new approach to global investment strategy piloted in Asian and African countries and consequently worked on the Business Case for the World Bank’s new Global Financing Facility. She also delivered a new regional strategy in Africa during the Ebola outbreak, agreed by 50 African countries.

Leading policy R&D for the Queensland Government and national statistics for Australian Government policy, she is experienced in delivering a wide range of research and has received multiple awards for innovative research, partnership, and leadership at the government and international levels. She is a political economist by training, completing her undergraduate degree at Griffith University in Australia and postgraduate studies in political affairs and governance at the University of Queensland. She has completed her Masters and Ph.D. in the United Kingdom, focusing on the use of research, evidence, and innovation for global health policy and programs.


Srinivas Tata
Srinivas Tata
Director, Social Development Division, UNESCAP
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Srinivas Tata, Md. is the Director of the Social Development Division of UNESCAP. He has 15 years of experience of working with the United Nations. He is a physician by qualification with experience in finance, social policy, public health and programme management. He has served in a wide range of positions. He has previously served as the Chief of the Capacity Development and Partnerships Section of the Strategy and Programme Management Division, and provided support to all ESCAP Divisions and Offices for the formulation and implementation of technical cooperation projects and managed partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders. He also served as the Chief of Social Policy and Population Section in the Social Development Division from 2012 to 2016, focusing on population aging, demographic change, migration and health. He was also posted as the Deputy Chief of the Regional Commissions New York Office from 2010 to 2012. Prior to joining the UN, he was posted as Director (Public Health) in the Ministry of Health in the Government of India, dealing with financing and implementation of large health programmes, and WTO negotiations on affordable access to medicines. He also worked as an Under Secretary in the Central Ministry of Finance dealing with indirect taxation policy and tariffs on a range of commodities.

Twitter icon @SriniasTata

for more information, please contact

Social Development Division +66 2288 1234 [email protected]
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