China, ASEAN to share infectious disease info to monitor for epidemics

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to share information about infectious diseases that cross the region's borders, according to the state news service, Xinhua.

The intent of the work is to avoid epidemics such as the H7N9 avian influenza, Ebola and the Middle East respiratory syndrome. An estimated 1.8 billion people live in the region, most of them in China.

A World Health Organization official said China must be a part of any information sharing so all nations in the region can learn from each other how to monitor diseases crossing borders and how to respond to them.

Although China is not part of ASEAN, whose members are Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam, all of the countries are part of the China-ASEAN Trade Area established in 2010. That group also is concerned with management of public health and was expected to reach its own agreement by the end of the year.

- here's the story from Xinhua