Health minister of 11 member countries will attend the 70th Regional Committee meeting of World Health Organisation South-East Asia Region (WHO SEAR) region in the Maldives from September 6 to 10.

WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Hepatitis in South-East Asia Region, Amitabh Bachchan, will join the meeting to advocate for urgent action against viral hepatitis, a preventable disease that kills approximately 410,000 people in the region every year, a press release from WHO SEAR office states.

Building health systems resilient to climate change, improving access to essential medicines for all and intensifying efforts to end tuberculosis are the key issues that will be discussed at the meeting.

“The focus of the meeting will be on climate change – on how to build health systems’ resilience to climate change. A well prepared and responsive health system is crucial for preventing and minimising the increasing health risks posed by climate change,” the press release states.

The ministers will also deliberate on accelerating efforts to end tuberculosis (TB). The region bears a disproportionate 45 percent of the global TB burden.

Health officials with the member countries and representatives of partner organisations will also attend the meeting.

Strengthening primary health care and the health workforce and progress towards universal health coverage are other priority issues that will be addressed.

The press release states that as the region’s health needs evolve, countries face increasing challenges in ensuring equitable access to a growing range of quality essential medicines at affordable prices. “To overcome these challenges, ministers will discuss ways to strengthen inter-country cooperation in areas such as medicines procurement and pricing, and regulation of medical products, as well as ways to enhance appropriate use of medicines, especially antibiotics.”

The meeting will also deliberate on the action needed to cut down road traffic injuries, which cause 316, 000 deaths in the region every year.

As countries across the region bear a high burden of vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria and lymphatic filariasis, vector control will be discussed at the meeting.


Staff reporter