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Dr Muhammad Ali Pate,
Honourable Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Nigeria

Prof Zulfiqar Bhutta,
Robert Harding Inaugural Chair in Global Child Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

Prof Mari Pangestu,
Former Managing Director Development Policy & Partnerships, The World Bank and Former Minister of Trade and Minister of Tourism & Creative Economy, Indonesia

Distinguished guests

Esteemed colleagues

Good morning,

I am happy to join you at the inaugural APIC Summit on Infectious Diseases and Immunization. This summit serves as a call for unified action and collaborative innovation, and a bridge to transcend boundaries in our common goal to achieve ‘Health For All’.

Current Immunisation Landscape

2.         Immunisation, as described by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a “key component of primary healthcare and an indisputable human right”. However, even vaccines are not exempt from the supply disruptions that threaten its provision to those in need. While COVID-19 magnified the importance of vaccines in the prevention and control of infectious diseases, it also brought to light accompanying barriers such as misinformation and vaccine hesitancy that we, as a coalition, must address. Many communities within our region struggled for equal access to effective vaccines, highlighting systemic inequalities that require our attention.

3.         Beyond COVID-19, findings from recent WHO and UNICEF reports showed the largest decline in childhood vaccinations in about three decades. As a result of global service disruptions stemming from COVID-19, 67 million children missed their immunisation milestones between 2019 and 2021. Of note, the East Asia and Pacific regions were badly affected. We should not allow global health security to be threatened by the resurgence of diseases like measles that are entirely preventable with vaccines.

APIC’s Agenda

4.         It is apt that this meeting convenes to reaffirm the notion ‘Vaccinations for All: Access, Confidence and Equity’. It calls on professionals in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond to delve deep into the various facets of vaccine accessibility, distribution and trust, on a global scale. Singapore’s commitment to this course is seen not just in our support for the 100 Day Mission – the goal of delivering pandemic vaccines within the first 100 days – but also strategic partnerships for building of domestic vaccine production capabilities and our call for countries to join us in the pledge to export pandemic vaccines from day one of production.

Regional Progress in Immunisation

5.         Notwithstanding the challenges that arose from COVID-19, the pandemic was not without its triumphs for the region. Countries scrambled to action, resulting in a collaborative roll-out of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines across the Asia Pacific region. The introduction of rapid diagnostic tests and cost-effective testing substitutes came early on in the pandemic. By early-2021, countries had started rolling out their national vaccination programmes; later that same year, Southeast Asia began the local production of vaccines. These key initiatives were crucial for us to reach where we are today, COVID-19 endemicity.   

6.         While we may look back on some of our achievements in tackling the pandemic, we must not neglect the journey ahead. As a region, we need to reinforce these efforts, mitigate our shortcomings, and translate the lessons learnt beyond the pandemic to routine immunizations that protect against other infectious diseases. One such lesson is to safeguard the equity and access of vaccines. On our part, Singapore supports the 100 Day Mission, participated in the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and contributes to the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases. Translating these lessons into reality is a goal greater than any one of us, and we need the buy-in of stakeholders and countries alike to innovate, collaborate and follow through these novel solutions.

7.         This summit offers a dynamic space for collaboration and shared learning, with the wealth of expertise and convergence of experiences. The events over the next two days present us with an excellent opportunity to engage in discourse on a wide spectrum of issues – such as the nuances that drive vaccine uptake among diverse demographics, to brainstorming on innovative solutions to present-day challenges. We must work towards prioritising vaccine equity, bridging information gaps, and fortifying trust among our communities – to ensure no one is left behind.


8.         Gathering here, we reaffirm our commitment to lead and shape a resilient healthcare future for the region. It is a future where information is accurate, vaccines are accessible, and every individual, no matter where they are, is protected.

9.         I am hopeful that our discussions over these two days will inspire action, deepen our shared commitment, and pave the way for a brighter, healthier future.

10.       Thank you.

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