The ASEAN’s Responses to COVID-19: A Policy Sciences Analysis


The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) it as a pandemic on March 11th, 2020. The pandemic has brought havoc globally as more than 190 countries and territories are affected as of 30 April 2030. The crisis suggests that no country can deal with the pandemic alone. International cooperation including regional cooperation is essential for any country to survive. We are particularly interested in Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) cooperation and performance under COVID-19 because it has been one of the regions where regional cooperation on health security has been functioning based on lessons from SARS 2003 and H1N1 2009.

The “One Vision, One Identity, One Community” of ASEAN has merits under COVID-19 response but remains invisible. The method encompasses analysis of published materials issued by and accessible from the ASEAN website, complemented with analysis for media articles including social media, supported by published academic journal articles. All of the authors have expertise on ASEAN policies in the field of health, disasters, and regional policy and planning. Some authors have also worked from various international organisations working on issues related to the ASEAN region.

This paper aims to document and analyse how ASEAN member states respond to COVID-19. It asks how to cooperate under the One-ASEAN-One Response framework. This paper also compares the 10 member states’ policy responses from January to April 2020. We utilise the framework of policy sciences to analyse the responses. We found that the early regional response was slow and lack of unity (January - February 2020). Extensive early measures taken by each member state are the key to the success to curb the spread of the virus. Although, during March and April 2020, ASEAN has reconvened and utilised its existing health regional mechanism to try to have a coherent response to the impacts. Strengthening future collaboration should be implemented by recognizing that there is a more coherent, multi sectoral, multi stakeholders and whole-of-ASEAN Community approach in ensuring ASEAN’s timely and effective response to the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19, ASEAN, Pandemic, Policy, Disasters, Health, Regional cooperation, health system resilience

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