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Finding Balance In NGOs’ Public Health Contributions In Asia

Writing in the East-West Center’s “Asia Pacific Bulletin,” (.pdf) Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, “In Asia, the capacity of [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] to contribute to public health, both within individual countries and at the regional level, has steadily expanded,” and he states that NGOs “that work on public health issues could potentially have a greater role in enhancing regional security throughout Asia than is currently acknowledged.” He continues, “However, the breadth and depth of engagement by public health NGOs is uneven across specific issue areas.” In order to ensure NGOs “realize their full potential requires a dual track approach. First, a more deliberate, coordinated effort by international funders to support comprehensive public health interventions can help reduce imbalances between resources allocated to specific diseases. The second requirement is to reduce government restrictions that constrain local and international NGOs from engaging in the type of regional cooperation necessary to adequately deal with public health challenges that do not respect borders,” he concludes (7/30).