72ndSession of the World Health Assembly has ended today. The meeting was held from 20th to 28th May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. Representatives including ministers of health, head of delegations from 194 Member States of the WHO, other public health experts, and Civil Society Organizations took part in this year’s health assembly. World Health Assembly is WHO’s governing body meeting where key health decisions related to global health are taken.
The Maldivian delegation to the World Health Assembly this year was led by the Minister of Health Mr. Abdulla Ameen. Minister of Health Mr. Abdulla Ameen, also represented Maldives as one of the Vice Chairman of Committee B of the Assembly this year. “Universal Health Coverage: Leaving no one behind” was the theme for the plenary of the assembly this year. Minister delivered a statement at plenary of assembly on behalf of Maldives focusing on the challenges and issues faced by small island countries and highlighted current work being carried out in the Maldives to address health issues related to Climate Change, public health and health system development.
Minister Ameen took part as a panelist in several high-level side events, including, green, sustainable climate-resistant health care facilities, air pollution, climate change, oceans and health and also on access to safe & affordable surgery particular for small island developing states. Maldives delegation also took part in side events related to nutrition policy particularly focusing towards eliminating transfat by 2023, building a healthier population and other health events relevant to the Maldives. Based on the recommendations from WHO and the experience shared by global experts and other member states, Maldives would also set national targets aligning global recommendations to eliminate trans fat. Also, Maldives delegation met with Executive Director of StopTB partnership to accelerate ongoing efforts to eliminate TB in the Maldives by 2023, support Ministry of Health in the procurement of latent TB drugs, resource mobilization and facilitate a Global Drug Facility mission to the Maldives to improve TB drug supply and management.
Strengthening information systems for health, improving quality of patient care and decision making through technological advancements, being a priority of the government of Maldives, delegation also met with the Assistant Director-General of WHO for data, analytics, and delivery, to discuss on technical support to the Maldives to digitalize health sector and build capacity of health sector in health research and data analysis to support core functions of health sector.
On the sidelines of the World Health Assembly, the Maldives delegation held bilateral discussions with delegations from Saudi, Malaysia, Italy, India, China, Thailand, Nepal, and the Philippines to discuss bilateral collaborations. An MOU in the area of health collaboration was also signed between Cuba and Maldives at the sidelines of this assembly. The delegation also met with the South-East Asia Regional Director and Stop TB Partnership for Migrants and other health organizations as well. The main areas of discussions included capacity building of health professionals, recruitment of professionals, resource sharing to strengthen the health system, medical tourism, opportunities to share best practices through exposure visits, support for Thalassemia and reviewed the progress of current bilateral MOUs.
The Maldives, at this health assembly, on behalf of 11 member states of South East Asia region, lead regional one voice statement, focusing on TB elimination in the region by 2030 and on increasing multi-stakeholder level participation and accountability. The Maldives also co-sponsored decision-related to ‘Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan’ calling for regular review and increased support by WHO and member states to improve the health conditions of Palestinians.