More than 30 parliamentarians from countries in WHO South-East Asia Region (SEAR) committed to health and wellbeing of women, children and adolescents during the two-day South-Asia regional parliamentarian meeting which started on July 26 in New Delhi, India.

According to a press release from WHO SEAR office, this is to further reduce preventable diseases and deaths among them.

Adopting a ‘Call to Action,’ the participants committed to contribute towards increasing national budgets for health services for the key population; ensuring access to and financial protection for quality reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services within the provision of universal health coverage; and deploying skilled workforce, especially in rural areas.

WHO South-East Asia’s regional director, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said the health of women, children and adolescents are critical to sustainable development, economic as well as social development. “This population should be at the centre of our efforts to achieve universal health coverage with quality health care provided to everyone, everywhere.”

The press release states that the parliamentarians agreed to work towards introducing or amending and implementing laws to protect rights of women, children and adolescents including preventing child marriage.

The region which accounts for one-fourth of the global population, one-third of newborns, and over 360 million adolescents, the largest number of the young population ever has been making progress in advancing the health of women and children, according to the press release.

“The momentum picked up in recent years with WHO declaring ‘reducing preventable maternal, child and neonatal deaths’ as a flagship programme in South-East Asia Region in 2014,” it states.

Despite progress, there is much to be done, it states. Everyday, nearly 170 women and girls die in the region from preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Nearly 3500 children die every day, mostly due to pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, with malnutrition underlying 45% deaths.

Staff reporter