Inauguration of the Designation of the Environmental Health Institute Singaporeas a WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research of Arbovirus and its Associated Vectors
Dr Shin Young-soo
World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific
The Honourable Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources;
Mr Andrew Tan, Chief Executive Officer, National Environment Agency;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is an honour to be here this morning to congratulate the Environmental Health Institute of the National Environment Agency of Singapore for its designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research of Arbovirus and its Associated Vectors.
The Environmental Health Institute has an excellent reputation in our Region and around the world as a public health laboratory working on arbovirus biology.
The Institute has conducted pioneering research on the surveillance, diagnosis and control of dengue and chikungunya.
The work of the Institute has had a significant impact on disease control strategies regionally and globally.
Dengue is a global health threat of increasing severity, impacting not only health but also communities and health systems.
The fight against dengue is everyone's concern, and collective actions to control and prevent the disease must be urgent national and regional priorities.
In view of this, the WHO Regional Offices for the Western Pacific and South-East Asia developed the Dengue Strategic Plan for the Asia Pacific Region (2008–2015).
This plan serves as a road map for the development of national dengue plans and aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from the disease.
As WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, I have made the fight against dengue one of my chief priorities.
When our governing body—the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific—met last year in Malaysia, dengue was high on our agenda.
At that time, I called on Member States to strengthen both their commitment and leadership in the fight against dengue.
I emphasized the need for greater advocacy and investment by governments and better clinical management of dengue cases in our health systems.
In response to the continuing fight against dengue, WHO has intensified its work with Member States to strengthen national and regional dengue alert and response capacities.
We have supported Member States in their efforts to integrate dengue surveillance into existing indicator-based surveillance systems, using as a guide the WHO Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases, known as APSED 2010.
WHO also has been working with Member States to strengthen laboratory capacity in conjunction with "ASEAN Plus Three Partnership Laboratories".
In addition, we are providing support to Member States to utilize WHO Integrated Vector Management, a decision-making process that helps optimize the use of resources to reduce or interrupt the transmission of vector-borne diseases.
WHO also is working with the Regional Clinical Network on Infectious Diseases to develop a dengue case-management curriculum.
Much of our work in dengue prevention and control has been undertaken in close cooperation with our long-term partner in this fight, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
ASEAN demonstrated its strong commitment to intensify advocacy for dengue prevention and control by deciding last year at a meeting of Health Ministers here in Singapore to declare 15 June of every year as ASEAN Dengue Day.
And I am very pleased to see that this first ASEAN Dengue Day coincides with the inauguration of Singapore's Environmental Health Institute as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research of Arbovirus and its Associated Vectors.
In Singapore, dengue prevention and control involves close cooperation between the National Environment Agency and the Ministry of Health, with the Ministry handling dengue case surveillance through mandatory notifications from all clinics, hospitals and laboratories.
The Ministry of Health also takes care of clinical management.
The entire Western Pacific Region benefits from the work undertaken here.
Some of you were in Manila last month for a joint WHO-ASEAN workshop that developed a series of key messages for dengue prevention and control.
Those messages reaffirmed the commitment of both governments and communities in the fight against dengue and focused on our need to be "preparedness driven" rather than "response driven".
The messages also reconfirmed the need regional cooperation since dengue doesn't respect national borders.
Singapore's technical expertise and strong multisectoral cooperation helped it develop one of the most successful dengue prevention and control programmes in the Region.
And the Environmental Health Institute has long been admired throughout the Region for its considerable contributions to regional arbovirus disease surveillance, training and control.
The Institute for many years has assisted both WHO and individual Members States, particularly those with limited resources.
Working with WHO, the Institute organized regional dengue workshops in 2009 and 2010 to strengthen field and laboratory surveillance.
The Institute also hosted the inaugural Asia Pacific Dengue Programme Managers Meeting in 2008.
Today, with its new designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre, the Environmental Health Institute of Singapore is making an even greater commitment to fight this dreaded disease.
Once again, I am honoured to be here today to welcome the Environmental Health Institute into the WHO family of collaborating centres and to join you in observing ASEAN Dengue Day.