Asean to study impact of trade liberation on health

October 10th, 2008 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, Oct 10 (DPA) Southeast Asian health ministers Friday called for a study on the impact of trade liberalisation on health to ensure that people are protected from harmful products that are easily distributed across borders.The ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) also agreed that there was a need to look into the negative effects of increasing migration of health workers.

The Asean health ministers were meeting in Manila with their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea. The scandal over tainted Chinese milk and dairy products dominated the discussions.

“The health ministers share the common view that globalisation and trade liberalisation may contribute to positive and negative implications to the health sector,” said Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

Duque said the ministers welcomed the “move to mount a regional initiative… to discuss and to develop approaches to address the negative impact of trade liberalisation”.

Chinese Vice Minister for Health Liu Qian assured his counterparts that Beijing has put in place the necessary measures to resolve the melamine-milk scandal that has spread to various countries in Asia.

“The Chinese government is urging all exporters to follow our market rule (banning all tainted milk and milk products),” he told a press conference after the meeting. “All the products in the market are now safe.”

During the meeting, the participating health ministers agreed that melamine, even at the “minutest amount, should never be added deliberately to any food product.”

Chinese milk and dairy products laced with melamine - a binding agent and coating for particle, fibre and laminated board - have been linked to the deaths of four Chinese babies. More than 50,000 children fell ill after consuming the contaminated products.

Since the scandal broke out, more than 30 countries, including Asean member countries, have banned, recalled or found contamination in dairy products from China.

Asean consists of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).

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