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date: 17 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Despite Asia’s high level of vulnerability to a wide range of transboundary health threats, health-related issues did not play a significant role in the international relations of the region for most of the period following the Second World War. This only changed in the beginning of the 2000s with the outbreak of two newly emerging infectious diseases, SARS and highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in the region. This chapter argues that common threat perceptions led to relatively smooth short-term cooperation to organize the outbreak response at that time, especially under the aegis of ASEAN. It highlights three key obstacles to the creation of substantive, long-term regional cooperation to counter pandemic threats: a high degree of uncertainty relating to future infectious disease developments, resource shortages at the national level, and strong sovereignty concerns.

Keywords: regional health cooperation, securitization, infectious diseases, pandemics, SARS, highly pathogenic avian influenza, H5N1, ASEAN, uncertainty, resources, sovereignty

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