At the outset of the meeting, Dr. Kitaoka noted that the COVID-19 crisis could mark a historic turning point, and that the international cooperation with various partners, including the IsDB, becomes now more crucial than ever in addressing global socio-economic challenges and disruptions. Dr. Hajjar provided an overview of the IsDB Group's response to the COVID-19 crisis, noting the importance of mitigating the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, especially on small and medium-sized enterprises, utilizing new technologies, and adhering to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In addition to cooperation on the polio eradication campaign in Pakistan and the partnership in the Conference on cooperation among East Asian countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD), the two heads also recognized the established cooperation and collaboration in international fora, such as the International Development Finance Club (IDFC) and the Director-General's Forum on South-South and triangular cooperation co-sponsored with the United Nations. Both leaders agreed significantly scale-up their cooperation going forward in these areas and other areas of strategic interest to both institutions.
Dr. Hajjar said that 2020 could be an important year for the globalization process and that, rather than reversing it, it is necessary to exert further efforts to build a greener, more inclusive, and more resilient international community. Dr. Kitaoka agreed with this and stressed the significance of the international community's resilience and flexibility.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Kitaoka introduced JICA's cooperation to date, ranging from preventive measures such as the dissemination of maternal and child health handbooks (MCH Handbooks), improvements in the field of water and hygiene, promotion of hand washing, and enhancement of nutrition, to the establishment of hospitals for medical treatment. In addition, he expressed his desire to work towards building a strong health and medical systems with hospitals at its core and called for cooperation with the IsDB regarding these efforts. Dr. Hajjar commended JICA's efforts and highlighted the IsDB's health sector work. He reiterated IsDB’s readiness to explore further partnership opportunities with JICA in the areas of health systems strengthening, disease control & early warning systems, as well as other areas of mutual interest, including the TICAD process, blended finance, technology & innovation, through a “deep dive” and structured dialogue, in order to draw up a new strategic partnership framework between the two institutions.
JICA will continue to work with domestic and international partners to strengthen health and medical systems in developing regions and minimize the damage caused by COVID-19, while endeavoring in every possible way to ensure the safety of everyone in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.