The Plenary Session of the 67th World Health Assembly concluded in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday. The theme for general discussion this year was “The link between climate and health”. On behalf of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, the session was attended by Shri C.K. Mishra, Additional Secretary (Health), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Speaking at the occasion Shri Mishra said that addressing climate change is not just an issue of international agreements or economic costs – it is a choice of what kind of world we all want to live in. In this context, the principle of Common But Differential Responsibilities (CBDR), under the banner of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is an ideal way forward.
Shri Mishra said that there is a major challenge for the public health community to identify best individual and local strategies as there is lack of coherence globally in terms of clear public health messages about climate aimed at populations in general. Shri Mishra emphasized that the need of technology transfer as a means to empower developing countries, the important role of generic medicines, need for appropriate international policy space to facilitate equitable access to affordable, quality, safe medicines, vaccines and advanced medical technologies for combating various diseases and the value and importance of traditional medicine and need of experience and knowledge-sharing for securing public health needs were the key areas that need to be focused.
He noted that in India “Health” has been given a central position in the national plan, running from 2012 to 2017. India has been successful in achieving remarkable reductions in Maternal Mortality Rate, Infant Mortality Rate, Neo-Natal Mortality Rate and the Total Fertility Rate, following strategic investments made under the National Rural Health Mission. Also India has been successful in the eradication of polio. India has recently constituted a Steering Committee of experts on health related issues pertaining to air pollution which comprises two subgroups on household air pollution and outdoor air pollution. We are committed to carry this forward to a logical conclusion, he added.
Shri Mishra said that for effective global action on the social, economic and environmental determinants of health, adequate funding support to the countries with huge disease burden, poverty and scoring low on these determinants must be prioritized and ensured. In this context, the work being done by the PBAC working group to develop a new strategic resource allocation methodology is a welcome step. To succeed on Public Health Agenda concerted and collaborative world action with unconditional and equitable technical and financial support from all quarters is required, he added.
He complimented and congratulated Dr. Margaret Chan, DG, WHO and her efficient team at WHO for successfully driving the core agenda of WHO, i.e. better health for all, through the complex and at times difficult process of inter-governmental consultations to achieve synergy and focus in our efforts at an international level. He extended heartiest congratulations to Dr. Roberto Ojeda on his election as the President of the World Health Assembly, 2014.