WHO regional health ministers to meet today to discuss COVID


Health ministers from member countries of World Health Organisation South East Asia Region are set to discuss measures to curtail the outbreak of COVID-19, ways to maintain essential health services and transition to the ‘new normal’ during its 73rd Regional Committee Session beginning tomorrow.

Hosted by Thailand, the 73rd Regional Committee Session of WHO South-East Asia, the annual governing body meeting of WHO in the Region, is being held virtually for the first time ever in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, health ministers and senior health officials of the 11 member countries, including Nepal, of the region, UN agencies, partners, donors and civil society representatives would be among those attending the two-day session, read a press release issued by New Delhi-based regional office of WHO.

The pandemic has severely strained health systems across the region. As part of the COVID-19 response, WHO has been advocating for maintaining essential health services and accelerating resumption of disrupted health care services. This will be discussed at a Ministerial Round Table with member countries sharing experiences and lessons learnt. The mid-term review of progress, challenges, capacities and opportunities for the decade of health workforce strengthening 2015-2024; and annual report on monitoring progress on universal health coverage and health related Sustainable Development Goals, are among the agenda of the session.

The 73rd Regional Committee Session will also take note of the progress in implementation of some of the previous resolutions adopted by the regional committee, such as promoting physical activity, the regional action plan to reduce harmful use of alcohol, access to medicines, dengue control and malaria elimination and measles and rubella elimination, read the release.

Home to one-fourth of the world’s population, the region has eight flagship priority programmes – eliminate measles and rubella by 2023; prevent and control non-communicable diseases through multi-sectoral policies and plans, with focus on “best buys”; accelerate reduction of maternal, neonatal and under five mortality; continue progressing towards universal health coverage with focus on human resources for health and essential medicines; further strengthen national capacity for preventing and combating antimicrobial resistance; scale-up capacity development in emergency risk management in countries; finish the task of eliminating neglected tropical diseases and other diseases on the verge of elimination; accelerate efforts to end TB by 2030. During the Session, some countries will be felicitated for the recent public

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 9, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.