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Don't need to spend more on health, but efficiently and equitably: WHO SE Asia chief

Paro (Bhutan), Sep 9 (IANS) The 75th Session of the Regional Committee for WHO South-East Asia concluded here on Friday with member countries committing to resilient health systems, accelerating multi-sectoral actions to address priority health issues and re-energising comprehensive primary health services to build societies that are more inclusive, equitable, and resilient against present and future emergencies.

“We are at a history-defining juncture. Over the past two and a half years, the region and the world have witnessed immense transformative change. It is important for us not just to spend more on health, but to spend efficiently and spend equitably.

“Our focus must be on vulnerable populations, we must identify them and see how best we can address their needs. We cannot leave anyone behind as we seek to drive rapid and sustained progress towards universal health coverage, health security and health for all,” WHO South-East Asia’s Regional Director, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said.

The annual governing body meeting of WHO in the region which met in person for the first time since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, adopted the Paro Declaration to address mental health through primary care and community engagement.

It also adopted resolutions to accelerate progress against non-communicable diseases, including oral health and integrated eye care and promote social participation to strengthen primary health care in support of universal health coverage.

Recognising that climate action is health action, the Regional Committee decided to extend the Regional Framework for Action in Building Health Systems Resilient to Climate Change (2017-2022) till 2027.

The session endorsed Implementation Roadmap for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in South-East Asia 2022-2030, and two action plans — for oral health in South-East Asia 2022-2030 and for integrated people-centred eye care in South-East Asia 2022-2030 were also endorsed.

The Regional Committee emphasised on the need to revitalise regional knowledge and experience-sharing mechanisms aligned with national, regional and global goals for strengthening comprehensive people centred primary health services and health systems to respond to public health priorities, such as mental health, non-communicable diseases, emergencies and pandemics, including Covid-19 and, more recently, monkeypox.

It reviewed progress reports on its previous resolutions and decisions on the regional action plan on health, environment and climate change, the Male Declaration for building health system resilience to climate change, strategic action plan to reduce the double burden of malnutrition, expanding the scope of the regional health emergency fund – SEARHEF – to fund preparedness, and to strengthen emergency medical teams in the region.

–IANS

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