UNDER the cloud of global risk due to COVID-19, the 37 member-states of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Western Pacific elected Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III as its new chairperson to serve a term of one year.
The virtual conference held October 6-9, 2020 has adopted the following agenda: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization, ageing and health, safe and affordable surgical interventions, and the programme budget for 2022-2023.
Duque has called for “control and elimination of vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The Regional Committee has previously endorsed regional strategies for implementation of the global vaccine action plan, and measles and rubella elimination.
Duque urged the body for the “expansion of immunization service delivery beyond childhood immunization programs,”even though additional vaccines are now available for older age groups. The Regional Committee is invited to consider for endorsement the draft Regional Strategic Framework for Vaccine- Preventable Diseases and Immunization in the Western Pacific (2021–2030).
“Surgical interventions are life-saving, as such, access to safe and affordable surgery is necessary to achieve universal health coverage,” Duque added.
Access is said to vary widely owing largely to the weaknesses in existing health systems, relatively less attention in national planning, and very siloed approaches. Cost and patient safety are critical concerns in the region.
The Philippine Secretary of Health called for “universal access to safe and affordable surgery.” He recommended establishing a vision with the engagement of stakeholders within and outside of the health sector, as well as strengthening or redesigning service delivery systems to deliver quality care. He pushed for discussing aging and health.
The Western Pacific Region is home to more than one-third of the world’s older population aged 65 years and older. Further, many younger countries and areas in the Region are transitioning to becoming ‘aged’ societies faster than already aged countries.
The last time the Philippines chaired the RCM was in 2014 when Sec. Ona led the RCM.
The WHO WPRO RCM is composed of 37 member states.
The committee meets annually to formulate policies, provide oversight for regional programs, report on the progress of their projects, and consider, revise and endorse new initiatives. Resolutions and decisions adopted during the session will guide the work of the regional and county offices for 2021.