Over the years, World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the World Bank and other donors, has supported the government’s National Health Development Plan across thematic areas in addressing maternal and child health nutrition, prevention and control of non-communicable diseases and health system improvements as well as support for innovation, results monitoring, project appraisal and capacity-building in the health sector. Continuation of such work would be essential in our effort to further strengthening our national health programmes beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and towards attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In this regard, Sri Lanka works closely with The South-East Asia Region of the World Health Organization (WHO-SEARO). Established in 1948, it is the first of WHO’s six regional outfits. Home to a quarter of the world population, WHO SEARO provides leadership on health matters and relevant policy options and technical support. For over five decades, the collaborative efforts of WHO and SEARO, has focused on improving the health of the people in the Region.
The Regional Committee has eleven Member Countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste. SEARO meets annually to discuss its programmes and budget which is hosted by a member country.
Every year, the world Health Assembly adopts 15- 20 resolutions on various issues related to health, many of which are relevant to the South East Asia Region, especially Sri Lanka. The regional committee adopts its own resolutions on topics that have a great and specific relevance to the region, keeping in view the current health situation of the region. Therefore, hosting this meeting in Sri Lanka would bring additional benefits to development of the health sector of the country.
The 69th Session will be attended by around 200-250 official delegates from over 15 countries, including Health Ministers from the 11 Member Countries. The forum would offer an ideal platform for our health officials to share knowledge on recent developments and advances in addressing national health issues. It would also help to highlight Sri Lanka’s achievements in successfully achieving MDGs in the health sector as well as to work out modalities for further strengthening cooperation and collaboration through Ministerial level deliberations. The event will also receive much focus at the World Health Assembly to be held in Geneva in May 2016 and the Colombo Declaration to be adopted at the 69th Session would set the stage for the WHO regional programmes for the coming year.
The five day event from 5th-9th September will also help to show-case Sri Lanka’s achievements in the health sector and the progress the country has made in socio-economic development while highlighting its tourism potential.