Japan will contribute $15 million to a fund aimed at promoting universal health coverage in the Asia-Pacific region to prevent the resurgence of the coronavirus and other pandemics, Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Wednesday.
Addressing the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) annual meeting, Aso underscored the need to support health systems to cope with infectious diseases such as COVID-19 as well as other illness.
Promoting universal health coverage will help reinforce health systems to prevent future pandemics, ensuring inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the region with ageing populations, Aso said.
The contribution will be paid into the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific, which backs ADB's efforts to address health issues, climate change, infrastructure, debt and the poor hit hard by the pandemic.
Asia accounts for more than 16% of global cases of around 150 million coronavirus infections, according to a Reuters tally as some economies like India struggle to contain the virus and its new variants, making economic recovery uneven.
Containing the COVID-19 disease holds the biggest key to escaping from the health crisis, Aso told the virtual meeting. It is essential to further develop vaccines and other remedies, and secure fair access for developing countries, he added.