May 8, 2017
On May 4, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Asian Development Bank (ADB)  with the objective of promoting health security  and universal health coverage (UHC)  in Asia and Pacific Island countries. The MOU was signed by President of JICA, Shinichi Kitaoka, and President of the ADB, Takehiko Nakao, the Senior Vice Minister of Finance of Japan, Minoru Kihara, in attendance at the start of a seminar sponsored by Japan as the host country of the 50th annual meeting of the ADB held in Yokohama.
Globalization in recent years has increased the risk of infectious diseases spreading across national borders. As societies in Asia and Pacific Island countries are expected to rapidly age, there is also a need to address new health issues such as non-communicable diseases and dementia, and challenges such as long-term care of the elderly.
Under the concept of “human security,” Japan has been working on world health challenges with a focus on three major pillars: strengthening the ability to respond to public health crises, preventing and preparing for crises, and promoting UHC. At the urging of Japan, the United Nations included ensuring healthy lives as Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015, and achieving UHC was made a key target. Then, at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016, Japan adopted the “G7 Ise-Shima Summit Vision for Global Health” as the holder of the G7 presidency and expressed to the world how initiatives for global health should be oriented along those three pillars.
Amid these developments, the MOU aims to solve problems in the health sector in Asia and Pacific Island countries through a partnership with the ADB. Building on the MOU, JICA and the ADB will work together toward the objectives of: 1) strengthening health security and achieving better preparedness and responsiveness to public health emergencies, 2) ensuring healthy lives for all people with a focus on those liable to be vulnerable, such as mothers, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and refugees, and 3) supporting the elderly, including through long-term care and integrated community care. Starting with sharing knowledge and lessons, areas where the two agencies can work together also include working jointly on technical cooperation such as formulating key policy recommendations and health workforce development, and co-financing for water and sanitation and other health-related infrastructure.
With the MOU as an opportunity, JICA will advance its partnership with the ADB, which has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, even further, and the two agencies will use their strengths together for synergetic effects while supporting sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
1: Asian Development Bank
An international development financial institution established with the objectives of promoting economic growth and cooperation in the Asia and Pacific region, and contributing to the economic development of member developing countries.
2: Health security
Protecting people from infectious diseases and other health threats that cross national borders.
3: Universal health coverage
Meaning that “all people receive appropriate health promotion, preventative, curative and rehabilitation services at affordable costs,” the achievement of UHC is Target 3.8 of Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.