Home Public Health Seventy-fifth Session of Regional Committee for WHO South-East Asia begins

Seventy-fifth Session of Regional Committee for WHO South-East Asia begins

by Public Health Update

5 September 2022 | News release

Paro, Bhutan | 5 September 2022 

The Seventy-fifth Session of the Regional Committee for WHO South-East Asia commenced today with health leaders emphasizing on continued efforts and sustainable recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are enough lessons for us to know that we cannot do without investing more in health hereafter. Our health system must be more resilient, accessible and there should be collective actions. While health sector itself is bound for reform, the health of our people is a critical ingredient to make all the reform initiatives a success.  Which is why the Regional Committee meeting geared towards improving healthcare services means a lot to us,” said Dr Lotay Tshering, Prime Minister of Royal Government of Bhutan, at the inaugural session.
The Prime Minister said, His Majesty has repeatedly reminded us to use the pandemic to reset ourselves so that the post pandemic path is literally new for us. Therefore, Bhutan is undergoing historic reform in all public sectors.

Ms Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan, said, “The pandemic has made it clear that health is central to development. The Regional Committee presents us with a unique opportunity to rethink, redesign and rewrite strategies and interventions to accelerate and enhance equitable quality health services and systems for the Region.”

In a virtual address, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said “The pandemic is not yet over. The virus is still circulating, and still changing… If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that health is the most precious commodity on earth. A commodity that must be cherished, prized and fought for every day. Not as a luxury for the privileged, but as a fundamental human right.”

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said, “How we as a Region choose to recover from the COVID-19 crisis will determine how we protect our many public health achievements, from maintaining our polio-free status, to continuing to eliminate NTDs and other diseases on the verge of elimination, be it lymphatic filariasis, kala-azar, trachoma or malaria. So much is at stake and so much depends on the decisions we make now, and in the weeks and months ahead.”

The Regional Director commended the Member countries for their resilience and solidarity during the COVID-19 response, “which must continue to define how we as a Region prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from acute public health events”.

The Regional Committee is meeting in-person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to strengthening preparedness and response to public health emergency, the session will deliberate and review other priority health issues, many of them impacted or accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the five-day session, a ministerial roundtable will discuss on addressing mental health through primary care and community engagement in the Region.

Also on the agenda are monitoring progress and acceleration plan for NCDs, including oral health and integrated eye care; accelerating elimination of cervical cancer; and reviewing progress towards achieving the 2025 end-TB targets.

The high-level deliberations will include achieving Universal Health Coverage, Sustainable Development Goals and health security in the Region through stronger and more comprehensive primary health services, strengthened health workforce education and training, and increasing national capacity and ownership in health information systems and knowledge- and experience-sharing to enhance efficiencies and strengthen people-centred comprehensive primary health care.

The Regional Committee will also review renewed efforts around the eight regional flagship priorities – to eliminate measles and rubella by 2023; address NCDs through multisectoral policies and plans; accelerate reduction of maternal, neonatal and under-five mortality; advance universal health coverage; reverse antimicrobial resistance; scale-up emergency risk management capacities; and eliminate neglected tropical diseases and TB.

5 September 2022 | News release (WHO)

  • The Pema Centre has been set up to create awareness on #mentalhealth and consolidate all interventions on mental health using the whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach. – Pemba Wangchuk, The Officiating Secretary, Ministry of Health, #Bhutan??
  • #Indonesia?? is moving forward with its #health system transformation initiatives in primary care, secondary care, health system resilience, health financing, human resource and health technology. – Dr Oscar Primadi, Chief of Policy Analyst, Ministry of Health, Indonesia
  • We are strengthening health security for resilience against future emergencies through surveillance, building human capital & lab capacity, and critical and emergency services. – Dr Odete Maria Freitas Belo, Minister of Health, #TimorLeste??
  • #Thailand?? commits to continue to extend universal health care and provide primary healthcare facilities in urban areas. – Sathit Pitutecha, Deputy Minister of Public Health, Thailand
  • UHC and financial protection are a priority. We need to act quickly to secure our health. – On behalf of Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Health, #SriLanka??
  • The #pandemic has taught us many lessons – to strengthen and make our health systems resilient and to increase investment in #health. – Hira Chandra KC, State Minister of Health and Population, #Nepal??
  • #Maldives?? has initiated a number of programmes for #health systems strengthening and for bringing people centered quality health services closer to the communities. – Ahmed Naseem, Minister of Health, Maldives.
  • #India?? adopted a people-centric approach against the #pandemic in the area of therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines ensuring accessibility, affordability & continuity of care besides utilizing digital health solutions. – Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, MoS, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India
  • #Bangladesh?? is committed to universal health coverage and quality health care for all. – Zahid Maleque, Minister of Health, Bangladesh.

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