Health ministers agree on new five-year strategic plan

Molwyn Joseph

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says Caribbean health ministers attending the World Health Assembly here have agreed with other on an ambitious new strategic plan for the next five years.

World-Health-Assembly-e1517773342767On Wednesday, PAHO said the Assembly’s 13th General Programme of Work (GPW) is designed to help the world achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  – with a particular focus on SDG3: ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages by 2030.

The SDG3 sets three targets: To ensure that, by 2023, 1 billion more people benefit from universal health coverage; 1 billion more people are better protected from health emergencies; 1 billion more people enjoy better health and wellbeing. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that achieving this “triple billion” target could save 29 million lives, according to PAHO.

Speaking to the Assembly, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told delegates that the new strategic plan was ambitious because “it has to be.”

Delegates noted that the organization will need to make several strategic shifts to achieve these targets, notably to step up its public health leadership; focus on impact in countries; and ensure that people can access authoritative and strategic information on matters that affect their health.

Over the coming days, delegates will make decisions relating to the International Health Regulations (2005), the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), cholera, tuberculosis, snakebite, physical activity, digital health, assistive technology, poliovirus, and health conditions in the occupied Palestine territory. 

The Assembly will also discuss other topics including access to essential medicines and vaccines, and women’s, children’s and adolescent’s health.

Earlier this week, ministers and delegates from the Americas, including the Caribbean, began sharing their views on how to achieve “Health for all: Commit to universal health coverage”, the theme of general discussion at the plenary meeting of the 71st World Health Assembly. 

Health ministers from across the Caribbean have outlined the measures taken to attain that objective and reaffirmed their commitment to achieving universal health.

A PAHO statement noted that health ministers of Argentina, Ecuador and Jamaica participated in an itinerant event intended to stress the importance of Member States actively participating at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on noncommunicable diseases. 

The ministers discussed the burden that these diseases are putting on their countries and the measures they are taking to address them and agreed that greater political commitment and  action is vital for addressing the prevention and treatment of these diseases.

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