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WHO meet in Bhutan to discuss health issues


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New Delhi: In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 75th Regional Committee session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia will be held in Bhutan from Monday to discuss emerging health and other key issues.

The annual governing body meeting of WHO, the highest decision making body, will be held from September 5 to 9.

It will be attended by Health Ministers, senior officials and health partners. They will deliberate on key issues to achieve universal health coverage and health security through stronger primary health care in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, a WHO statement said.

“Monitoring progress and accelerated plan for noncommunicable diseases, progress towards meeting the End TB goal, accelerating elimination of cervical cancer; and strengthening health workforce education and training are among other key issues to be taken up at the session,” it said.

The progress made on the resolutions adopted at previous sessions will be reviewed, including a regional plan of action for healthy environments for healthier populations; strategic plan to address the double burden of malnutrition; ending preventable maternal, newborn and child mortality; elimination of measles and rubella by 2023; and strengthening emergency medical teams.

Home to one-fourth of the global population, the region has been focusing efforts around eight regional flagship priorities since 2014 — to eliminate measles and rubella by 2023; address non-communicable diseases through multi-sectoral policies and plans; accelerate reduction of maternal, neonatal and under-five mortality; advance universal health coverage; reverse antimicrobial resistance; scale-up emergency risk management capacities; eliminate neglected tropical diseases; and to end TB.

The region eradicated polio in 2014 and eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus in 2016.

The Maldives and Sri Lanka have eliminated both measles and rubella while Bhutan, North Korea and Timor-Leste have achieved measles elimination.

The Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have eliminated lymphatic filariasis while Nepal and Myanmar have eliminated trachoma.

India is yaws-free. Sri Lanka and the Maldives have eliminated malaria. Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand have controlled Hepatitis B.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time that the regional committee session is being held in person. The last two annual meetings – hosted by Nepal in 2021 and Thailand in 2020 – were virtual.

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