The 68th session of the World Health Organisation’s Regional Committee for the Western Pacific (R.C.M68) was held in Brisbane, Australia two weeks ago.
The meeting was attended by W.H.O. Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus W.H.O. Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Shin Young-soo, Australian Minister for Health and Minister for Sport, the Hon. Greg Hunt and More than 300 delegates from the 37 member countries.
The Samoa delegation was led by the Minister of Health, Leao Dr. Talalelei Tuitama, Mrs Lanuola Tuitama, Darryl Anesi from the Ministry of Health and Lemalu Mathew Mualia from the National Health Services Board of Directors and Chairman of the Pharmacy Council.
Lemalu said the week was a packed agenda, full of items that addressed Member States key concerns.
Regional health leaders made decisions on eliminating major communicable diseases, including measles and rubella, as well as mother-to-child transmission of H.I.V. , hepatitis B and syphilis; financing of priority public health services; strengthening regulation of medicines and the health workforce; improving food safety; and health promotion for sustainable development.
They also considered a report on protecting children from the harmful impact of food marketing.
The top priority was on delivering results at the country level, and anticipating what is around the corner—the next outbreak, the next funding crisis, the next big threat to health. Strength in solidarity as our best defence against whatever the future holds was a main collective thought among the member states.
Again, the issues that were addressed at RCM68 included:
1. Eliminating major communicable diseases in the Region, including measles and rubella, as well as mother-to-child transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis;
2. Protecting children from the harmful impact of food marketing;
3. Food safety;
4. Sustainable financing for priority public health services, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries;
5. Health promotion in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda; and
6. Strengthening regulation of medicines and the health workforce, and convergence between countries’ regulatory systems.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, W.H.O. Director-General, during his keynote address to the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific said his vision for the W.H.O: “And I have come to realise that the world expects WHO to do three things, to keep the world safe, to improve health, and to serve the vulnerable.
Let me repeat that: the world expects WHO to keep the world safe, to improve health, and to serve the vulnerable.”
The Regional Committee Meeting (R.C.M.) is the key decision making body for the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) in the Western Pacific Region.
It brings together Health Ministers and senior officials from 37 countries and areas to set priorities and agree actions that will bring better health to nearly 1.9 billion people.
W.H.O’s Western Pacific Region is very geographically and economically diverse.
It stretches from Mongolia and China in the north and west, to Australia and New Zealand in the south, and French Polynesia and the Pitcairn Islands in the east.
The 37 countries and areas of the WHO Western Pacific Region are: American Samoa (USA), Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia (France), Guam (USA), Hong Kong SAR (China), Japan, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Macao SAR (China), Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Niue, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (USA), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands (UK), Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, and Wallis and Futuna (France).