Bangkok, Thailand, 16-18 April 2012. Eighty public health and legal experts convened for three days to review current and future challenges in public health law across the Asian region. Participants came from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In her keynote address, Dr Sima Samar, Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, reviewed the international legal framework for the right to health. Subsequent speakers noted that several countries have not yet met their obligations under the WHO International Health Regulations (2005), which poses a regional risk from emerging diseases. The impact of international trade laws and competition law on health care and access to medicines was also reviewed. Thailand’s use of electronic medical records was explored in depth, particularly for the tension between improved efficiency and accuracy, and potential threats to privacy. One outcome of the workshop was the identification of public health law as a regional as well as national concern, and the identification of public health practitioners and lawyers in the region who are committed to working together to address the public health challenges of globalization and greater regional economic integration. The experience in the Pacific in developing guidance for national public health law reform provided an example of the way forward. The meeting report will be published by mid-2012.
The workshop was co-hosted by the Faculties of Law and Public Health at Thammasat University, and cosponsored by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), the University of Sydney (Australia), and the Office of the Higher Education Commission (Thailand). The Rockefeller Foundation and the World Health Organization (WHO) provided financial support.