Southeast Asia's poorest mostly Filipinos, Indonesians – ASEAN report

MANILA, Philippines – Around 90% of the 36 million people in Southeast Asia living below the international poverty line are Filipinos and Indonesians, according to a development report released by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The report was launched on November 17 in Jakarta, Indonesia by the ASEAN, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and China, and titled “ASEAN-China-UNDP Report on Financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in ASEAN: Strengthening Integrated National Financing Frameworks to Deliver the 2030 Agenda.”

“An estimated 36 million people in the region still live below the international poverty line, with almost 90% of these people live in Indonesia or the Philippines,” the report said.

It noted, however, that extreme poverty in the region dropped to 7% as of 2013 from a high of 17% in 2005.

The report focuses mainly how to streamline development financing in Southeast Asia, with a focus on China’s “strengthened” role of financing in ASEAN.

“China is ready to work even more closely with ASEAN countries to seek greater synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, enhance infrastructure building and connectivity across the region,” said Xu Bu, the Permanent Representative of the Mission of China to ASEAN.

Health care

A key factor to improving the lives of people in ASEAN, the report said, is an improved Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

During the 31st ASEAN Summit held in Manila last November 11-14, Philippine Health Assistant Secretary Lyndon Lee Suy said that his counterparts in the region have committed to addressing malnutrition, anti-microbial resistance and disaster health management.

Suy said the Philippines is inclined towards healthy lifestyle policies such as President Rodrigo Duterte’s smoking ban in public areas.

The report noted that Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand use a tax-funded UHC system while Singapore has a contribution-raised system.

In the Philippines, Philhealth is also contribution-based. This would be addressed in the ASEAN report. (READ: Duterte's first year: Philippine health agenda 'a sham')

“The design and configuration of the financing model used affects how successfully the policy reaches the poorest people, expands the range of services on offer and reduces the costs they face,” reads a statement from the ASEAN.

“ASEAN’s greatest asset is its people and proper financing will enable the people of ASEAN to reach their potential.  This publication provides us with an understanding on the scale and mix of financing in the ASEAN region and the opportunities that can be explored to maximize financing for SDGs,” said Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, the Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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