UAE, October 8, 2015 - H.E. Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health, has participated in the recently concluded 62nd session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) held in Kuwait from October 5 to 8, 2015 under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al Hamad Al Sabah, Kuwait’s Prime Minister.
Al Owais said: “The UAE’s participation in the 62nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean is part of our government’s commitment to support international efforts aimed at achieving global health security and free the world from infectious and non-infectious diseases. The Ministry of Health is keen on participating in all scientific meetings to develop an advanced strategy enabling the smooth transition from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals as part of the UN development agenda beyond 2015. In addition, the strategy will aspire to meet challenges and explore opportunities that complement our efforts towards building a more secure and sustainable future. We fully support all related initiatives of the UAE, which is taking a leading position in adopting modern strategies for future development of comprehensive health programs that promote long life for individuals and the well-being of society.”
“Some regional countries have been witnessing an unprecedented increase in conflicts, which puts tremendous pressure on health systems and affects a large number of people. Hence, there is an urgent need to enhance cooperation and coordination to reach a common ground in meeting health needs according to the highest international standards. Such meetings are important opportunities to strengthen the channels of communications between the Ministers of Health and representatives of regional and international relief organizations, This coordination will help improve preparedness, emergency response and readiness efforts to effectively deal with serious health threats across the region,” he added.
During the first day of the meeting, the regional committee discussed the ‘Annual Report of the Regional Director 2014,’ which looked into the aspects of cooperation among member states from 2014 up to the first half of 2015. The committee also studied the work done related to five health priorities. Moreover, the session reviewed the progress reports on the following: polio eradication; emergency preparedness and response; the implementation of the UN’s political declaration on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases; the basic national capacities to implement the International Health Regulations; full health coverage; the regional strategy on health and the environment for the period 2014-2019; and efforts to save the lives of mothers and children.
The discussions also focused on the Corona virus causing the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the bird flu (H5N1) virus. Other topics included a range of issues focusing on the region’s health education and improved mental healthcare services, bridging the treatment gap between mental disorders, and the goals and indicators in this area.
The gathering highlighted national and regional expertise related to MERS and bird flu. It discussed applicable means to increase readiness at the national level, while also focusing on the progress and delays in complying with obligations and requirements of the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), a key element to global health security. Participants also addressed concerns on the shortcomings of the current mechanisms for IHR monitoring and implementation. They discussed a new approach to assess and monitor the capacity development related to maintaining IHR.
The opening of the 62nd WHO EMRO was led by Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director General; Dr. Ala Din Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean; and Dr. Ali Al-Obaidi, Kuwait Minister of Health. The Regional Committee is WHO’s decision-making body in the region with representatives from various health ministries of all 22 member states. Attending the event were more than 150 industry leaders, including regional health ministers, representatives from local, regional and international organizations, and experts from WHO regional offices and headquarters.