Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Strengthening trade and health governance capacities to address non-communicable diseases in Asia: challenges and ways forward

By Phillip Baker, Adrian Kay and Helen Walls

28th May, 2015 - Trade and industry, Health | Asia

Trade liberalisation is a driver of the rising burden of non-communicable diseases in Asia through its role in facilitating the growth of the region’s tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed foods industries while simultaneously restricting the capacities of governments to enact public health regulations. This highlights the need for greater coherence between health and trade policy in the region. Yet there has been little analysis of these topics with regard to Asia. What are the barriers and opportunities for enhancing trade and health policy coherence and strengthening governance capacities? How can health, in particular the prevention of non-communicable diseases through curbing risk commodity markets, be positioned more centrally in trade policy? We draw upon a diversity of literature to outline seven key challenges to governing the health–trade nexus as it relates to risk commodities and non-communicable diseases in Asia, and offer suggestions for strengthening capacities.

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