KUWAIT CITY, Oct 6, (KUNA): Minister of Health Dr Ali Al-Obaidi said Monday Kuwait hosting of the 62nd session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean highlights the close cooperation with WHO since Kuwait joined the organization in 1960. The fruitful cooperation covers various areas and serves many objectives for which the organization was established, the minister said in his inaugural speech to meeting of the Regional Committee — the decision-making body of the organization. “Kuwait contributed to WHO-sponsored researches on the combat against noncommunicable diseases such as heart diseases, hypertension, cancer and diabetes,” Dr Al-Obaidi said, citing the launching of Kuwait award and His Highness the Amir’s award for researches in healthcare for the elderly and the country’s contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The launching of Kuwait appeal for combating and preventing the chronic diseases was another evidence of the growing cooperation particularly after the issuance of the relevant UN political statement in September, 2011, he pointed out.
Al-Obaidi welcomed the attendees at the RC session, foremost among who are the WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan and WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ala Alwan and the ministers of health of the 22 RC member states. He extolled His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for his constant support to the efforts of the Ministry of Health to improve health services for all citizens, and thanked His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al- Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah for his patronage of the RC meeting. He noted that the meeting coincided with the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit held in New York to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including a health-related one. Dr Al-Obaidi renewed Kuwait’s commitment to working with WHO and all partners to advance the health agenda, not only in Kuwait but in the region as a whole.
On his part, Dr Ala Alwan welcomed the ministers of health and members of delegations, expressing his appreciation to the host, the government of Kuwait for their generous hospitality. He highlighted the major progress that had been made over the past year in the 5 regional strategic health priorities, particularly in responding to the extreme emergencies in the region and the health needs arising from them. He outlined the progress made in strengthening WHO’s role in emergency response, noting that “Last year we established a regional centre for emergencies and polio eradication in Jordan, and reviewed and adjusted our readiness and response structure and capacities at country level and in the Regional Office.”
In addition to establishing a dedicated operation and logistic hub, Dr Alwan added that “a regional emergency solidarity fund has also been established and will be funded starting January 2016.” Meanwhile, Dr Margaret Chan said despite a substantial shortfall in funding, “the region has tackled heavy adversity with impressive innovation.” “These innovations align well with the WHO reform requested by our governing bodies and initiated following the independent assessment of WHO’s performance during the Ebola outbreak,” she explained.
Dr Chan stressed the necessity of strengthening the health information system and the commitment to universal health coverage. “Accountability means counting. Reliable information is vital for evidence-based policy-making and efficient resource allocation,” she added. Meanwhile, Saudi Minister of Health Eng. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih said Monday night his ministry reported limited cases of malaria infection and effectively implemented preventive measures to control the disease.
“The Saudi health facilities are well equipped to address such communicable diseases,” the minister said in reply to KUNA question on the sidelines of the 62nd session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean. “The infection cases spotted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stemmed from Yemen where the boggy land rife with the mosquitoborne viral disease,” he pointed out. The minister voiced hope for the improvement of the security situations in the southern neighbor in order to eradicate the disease completely. Regarding the combat against coronavirus, Al-Falih said the Saudi health services gained experience in this field over the last three years which drew interest and praise from the WHO.
“As close neighbors with identical environment, the GCC countries are bound to partnership in the combat against coronavirus which proved to be camel-borne,” he revealed, noting that the Saudi measures deal with the disease not only from the short-term perspective but the long-term one as well. Eng Al-Falih added that the GCC partners also maintain close cooperation in the combat against non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases, hypertension, cancer and diabetes which have higher prevalence rates in modern societies. On the ongoing session of the WHO Regional Committee, he said it is part of a chain of activities by the organization to control communicable and non-communicable diseases.