Combating non-communicable diseases which cause over 8 million deaths per year in the South East Asian region will be the top agenda when Health ministers of 11 countries, including India, meet next week at a crucial WHO summit to set health priorities for the region.
The Health ministers will attend the 69th WHO Regional Committee meeting, the highest policy making body of the global health organisation in the region, at Sri Lanka from Setember 5-9. “NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, which kill nearly 8.5 million people every year and are the leading cause of deaths in the region, will be a key agenda at the meeting,” WHO South East Asia said in a statement.
Accelerating improvements in health in the era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the focus on the most vulnerable, will be another key agenda of the meeting.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will inaugurate the meeting while WHO Director General Margaret Chan, WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Poonam Khetrapal Singh and other WHO experts from health ministries of member countries will participate in the meeting.
WHO SEARO said during the meeting there will be a greater push for time-bound elimination of diseases as the region has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus.
The individual countries too have witnessed major wins such as elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis by Thailand, elimination of lymphatic filariasis by Maldives and Sri Lanka, yaws by India and malaria by Maldives.
Tackling anti-microbial resistance (AMR) as a priority with a multi-sectoral approach involving food, agriculture and animal sectors, will also be deliberated at the meeting.
“Ending preventable maternal and child mortality, addressing the double burden of malnutrition and health of migrant populations will also be discussed and focussed upon at the meeting,” WHO SEARO statement said.
WHO’s recent emergency reforms and further strengthening of core capacities by countries under the International Health Regulations for responding to health emergencies will be other key areas to be discussed and emphasised upon.
WHO’s South-East Asia Region comprises of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.