Globalization has led to new health challenges for the twenty-first century. These new health challenges have transnational implications and involve a large range of actors and stakeholders. National governments no longer hold the sole responsibility for the health of their people. These changes in health trends have led to the rise of global health governance as a theoretical notion for health policy making. The Southeast Asian region is particularly prone to public health threats such as emerging infectious diseases and faces future health challenges including those of noncommunicable diseases. This study looks at the potential of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a regional organization to lead a regional dynamic for health cooperation in order to overcome these challenges. Through a comparative study with the regional mechanisms of the European Union (EU) for health cooperation, we look at how ASEAN could maximize its potential as a global health actor. Our study is based on primary research and semistructured field interviews. To illustrate our arguments, we refer to the extent of regional cooperation for health in ASEAN and the EU for (re)emerging infectious disease control and for tobacco control. We argue that regional institutions and a network of civil society organizations are crucial in relaying global initiatives, and ensuring the effective implementation of global guidelines at the national level. ASEAN’s role as a regional body for health governance will depend both on greater horizontal and vertical integration through enhanced regional mechanisms and a wider matrix of cooperation.
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