Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has spoken the need of collective efforts among the South-East Asian nations to combat COVID-19 pandemic, in Kathmandu, on Monday.

While inaugurating the 74th Regional Committee meeting of WHO South-East Asia Region, the annual governing body meeting of WHO in the Region, today, the Prime Minister said COVID-19 pandemic had its implications on life, public health and social security.

He insisted on the need of combined efforts from the international and regional levels to combat the crisis.

"This Session is convened to take important decisions on improving the health status of the people in this Region at a time our health systems are overstretched to cater essential health services to the needy people. Let's ensure equitable access to vaccines, medicines, tools and technologies for the sake of humanity. Reaching out to the unreached should be our priority," he said addressing the regional event virtually.

WHO Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said the COVID-19 had taken a massive toll on our health systems. "Services have been disrupted and health care workers exhausted. Our challenge is multi-faceted, we have to regain lost ground in terms of health outcomes, rebuild health systems that have lost capacity and we have to do this at a time when government revenues in all countries will be under intense pressure."

The five-day virtual session, attended by Health Ministers and senior health officials of the Member countries of the Region, UN Agencies, partners, donors, and civil society representatives, will deliberate on strengthening public health emergency preparedness and response and accelerating progress for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, among others health issues.