Pandemic, essential health services to predominate discussions as Health Ministers of WHO South-East Asia Region meet this week

Bangkok – Participating in the Seventy Third Regional Committee Session of WHO South-East Asia on 9 – 10 September, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Ministers from Member countries of the WHO South East Asia Region will discuss measures to curtail the outbreak, ways to maintain essential health services and transition to the ‘new normal’.

Hosted by Thailand, the Seventy Third Regional Committee Session of WHO South-East Asia, the annual governing body meeting of WHO in the Region, is being held virtually for the first time ever in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Health Ministers and senior health officials of the 11 Member countries of the Region, UN Agencies, partners, donors and civil society representatives would be among those attending the two-day session.

The pandemic has severely strained health systems across the Region. As part of the COVID-19 response, WHO has been advocating for maintaining essential health services and accelerating resumption of disrupted health-care services. This will be discussed at a Ministerial Round Table with Member countries sharing experiences and lessons learnt.

The mid-term review of progress, challenges, capacities and opportunities for the decade of health workforce strengthening 2015-2024; and annual report on monitoring progress on universal health coverage and health related Sustainable Development Goals, are among the agenda of the session.

The 73rd Regional Committee Session will also take note of the progress in implementation of some of the previous resolutions adopted by the Regional Committee, such as promoting physical activity, the regional action plan to reduce harmful use of alcohol, access to medicines, dengue control and malaria elimination and measles and rubella elimination.

Home to one-fourth of the world’s population, the Region has eight flagship priority programmes – eliminate measles and rubella by 2023; prevent and control noncommunicable diseases through multisectoral policies and plans, with a focus on “best buys”; accelerate reduction of maternal, neonatal and under five mortality; continue progressing towards universal health coverage with a focus on human resources for health and essential medicines; further strengthen national capacity for preventing and combating antimicrobial resistance; scale-up capacity development in emergency risk management in countries; finish the task of eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and other diseases on the verge of elimination; accelerate efforts to end TB by 2030.

The Region has been making remarkable progress around the flagships and beyond.  During the Session, some countries will be felicitated for the recent public health achievements.


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