70th Session of the World Health Assembly, Geneva, Statement by Minister of Health.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Mr. President

    Madam Director General

    Honourable Ministers, Excellencies,

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    Assalaam Alaikum!

    Today, as we witness the age of sustainable development, as we celebrate the possibilities it presents for the future of nations, as we hail it as the breakthrough that will shape and change global landscapes , we will all agree that health is pivotal to international development and as such setting global goals for health carries far-reaching and profound implications for global development.

    The Government of Maldives, recognises that health is crucial to sustainable development. We believe that it is an essential contributor to economic growth of the society. For this reason, the government has placed health at the core of its developmental agenda with highest proportion of government budget allocated to health. The outcome of this action has been gratifying.

    Over the years, Maldives has made promising improvements in the health sector. Notable progress has been made towards reducing Infant Mortality and Maternal Mortality Rates.

    Average life expectancy in the country has increased. Maldives became the first country in the region to be declared a “Malaria Free ” and ‘Filaria free’ country.

    This is in addition to other vaccine preventable diseases that have been controlled to such an extent that diseases like polio, neonatal tetanus, whooping cough and diphtheria are non-existent in the country. Leprosy and Filaria have reached to zero transmission levels and achieved elimination targets.

    I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to WHO and our partners in health, without whom, these noteworthy achievements wouldn’t have been possible.

    The challenge now is to sustain this progress. Maldives being a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) faces specific social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. In the recent decades we are faced with new challenges. Chronic non-communicable diseases have emerged as the main cause of morbidity and mortality in the country.

    Health services available to Small Island Developing States like Maldives also have a vital role to play in sustainable development. We have narrow resource base, remoteness and heavy dependence on expatriate healthcare workers and export markets.

    The impact of outbreaks and emergencies could have severe consequences on the population due to the unique nature of these countries. It is therefore important to ensure that priority is placed on issues of health security and emergencies aligned with International Health Regulations.

    In the current era of globalization, the world is more interdependent than at any other time. Efficient and inexpensive transportation has left few places inaccessible. This increased global mobility has brought more and more people into contact with diseases. Therefore, an outbreak of infectious disease in one country places the rest of the world at a similar risk. Hence, global cooperation is necessary to achieve sustainable development.

    Ladies and gentlemen

    To accelerate progress on the unfinished MDG agenda and achieve the SDGs, more integrated and inclusive strategies are needed. We need partnerships that require whole-of-society, multi-sectoral and inter-regional approaches to cooperation to improve public health outcomes.

    Just as all aspects of a health system are interdependent, it is impossible to fully support one aspect of a health system without affecting others. To improve quality, we must not only define the standard of care to be achieved, but also build the workforce’s capacity to meet those standards. Building sustainable health sysems underscores the need for global holistic approach which recognizes the clear interdependence between economic, social and environmental spheres. It requires leadership and sustained committment from all sectors, to move with policy changes.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Sustainable development goals belong to all member states and to all its people. Achievement of the 2030 agenda requires a lot of collaborative effort, but the outcome will place the world on a different path, a path towards inclusivity, sustainability and universality. I call upon leaders of health to join hands on this endeavor.

    Thank you for your attention.