Sep 04, 2019-Wednesday
With international travel blurring national boundaries and viruses crossing continents within hours to cause seasonal flu, nipah, ebola and zika outbreaks in new locales and countries, strengthening regional collaboration can address existing, emerging and re-emerging health priorities to stop disability, disease and death. Scaling up capacities for emergency risk management; measles elimination and rubella control; preventing NCDs; reducing maternal and child deaths; achieving universal health coverage (UHC); eliminating neglected tropical diseases; and accelerating efforts to end TB are some critical issues being deliberated by minister-led delegations at the 72nd Regional Committee Session of the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia Region (WHO SEARO) in New Delhi this week.
Smart and effective governance, integrated programmes and services, and effective partnerships with government, private sector, non-profits and the community are essential to fill gaps in health care delivery and ensure everyone has access to the services they need, when and where they need them.
The WHO SEARO, which is home to a quarter of the world’s population, has shown exactly how by crossing several public health milestones in the past five years. India and its neighbours have used innovative approaches to end and eliminate endemic diseases. The region became polio free in 2014 and eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus in 2016. Even as United States and Europe struggle to contain measles outbreaks, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, South Korea and Timor-Leste have eliminated the disease, and six countries have controlled rubella. Maldives and Sri Lanka have eliminated malaria, and Thailand and Maldives have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Three have eliminated lymphatic filariasis, four have controlled Hepatitis B, India has become yaws free, and Nepal has eliminated trachoma.
The next steps are to increase human resources and strengthen the quality of services to reach UHC. In India, Ayushman Bharat and the Prime Minister Jan Arogya Yojna have put India on track. The challenge will be to stay the course as it gets scaled up.
First Published: Sep 04, 2019 19:15 IST