… the committee will discuss various health issues 

Nima Wangdi  

The 75th Regional Committee Meeting (RCM) of the World Health Organization (WHO) starts on September 5 in Paro.

The committee will discuss policy and technical matters such as Universal Health Coverage (UHC), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), health emergency preparedness, Tuberculosis (TB), disease elimination and control efforts, and progress towards achieving health-related sustainable development goals (SDGs).

A joint press release from the WHO and health ministry stated that the RCM will also discuss environment and climate change; the Male Declaration on Building Health Systems Resilience to Climate Change; and the reduction of the double burden of malnutrition in South East Asia, among others.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said: “Most importantly, the thematic area for this year’s ministerial roundtable meeting, which is mental health, is expected to yield major policy and programmatic outcomes.

She said that the agenda aligns well with the ongoing national efforts to address mental health issues, especially the initiation of the Pema, an apex agency for mental health under the benevolent and selfless patronage of Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen.

“Under the patronage of Her Majesty, we shall strive to champion the mental health agenda,” the minister said.

WHO Representative to Bhutan, Dr Rui Paulo de Jesus, said that the meeting was a high-level diplomatic event and that the RCM was the highest governing body in the South-East Asia Region. The decisions it takes will guide WHO offices in the region for the next year.

“This year’s meeting takes place as the region starts coming out of Covid-19 restrictions, and the meeting will be a good opportunity to discuss future health emergencies,” Dr Rui Paulo de Jesus said.

The meeting will also address several key issues such as mental health, climate change, and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The South-East Asia Region of WHO is home to a quarter of the world’s population. The RCM meeting is the highest governing body for health in the Region. The Regional Committee meeting will be attended by Health Ministers and senior health officials of the Member States of the Region, UN Agencies, partners, donors, and civil society representatives.

About 300 people are expected to attend the meeting and the five-day meeting will end on September 9.