Countries in WHO (World Health Organisation) South-East Asia resolved to accelerate efforts to control dengue, a disease which threatens nearly 1.3 billion people with frequent and large-scale outbreaks, and control malaria, that continues to be endemic in the Region.
"We need to intensify multi-sectoral approach at the national as well as the grassroots level to reach the most vulnerable and marginalised communities, strengthen surveillance, operationalise cross-border collaboration and most importantly promote vector control," Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia, said at the Seventy-first Regional Committee session.
The 11 member-countries of the Region--which account for one-fourth of the global population, 58 per cent of the global burden of Plasmodium vivax malaria, and increased risk of dengue and other vector borne diseases in view of the increasing urbanisation and climate change--adopted a resolution to prioritise dengue control and malaria elimination.
Reviewing the progress, challenges, capacities, and opportunities for strengthening health workforce, the countries agreed to continue to focus on frontline workers, improve rural retention and transformative education, and increase coordination between health and other ministries.
To further advance the health of newborns, children, and mothers, the countries agreed to enhance budgets and address social inequities. They emphasised that an integrated approach with reproductive newborn, maternal, child and adolescent health activities are at the heart of universal health coverage and for ensuring quality of care while "leaving no one behind".
Monitoring progress against universal health coverage (UHC) and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, the member countries agreed to continue to develop and implement policies to advance equity and efficiency.
The Regional Committee session adopted the 'Delhi Declaration' with Member countries committing to make essential medical products accessible and affordable to all, both within the Region and beyond.
The session adopted another resolution which seeks to strengthen emergency medical teams (EMTs) to enhance preparedness in WHO South-East Asia, prone to natural disasters.
The Member countries welcomed the expansion of the mandate of South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF), from the response to preparedness, to be better equipped to handle disasters. The SEARHEF has supported 37 emergencies in nine countries of the Region since its inception a decade ago, meeting immediate needs of affected communities, and save lives.