WHO-UHC Ministerial Meeting concludes

Salalah:  The Ministerial Meeting “The Road to the Universal Health Coverage in the Eastern-Mediterranean Region” was concluded at Salalah Rotana Resort today.

The Ministerial Meeting today resulted in issuing the Salalah Declaration on UHC 2018.

The Declaration called on health policymakers to define a context-specific Essential Health Service Package, to be based on globally and regionally identified Universal Health Coverage Priority Benefit Packages (UHC-PBPs) – taking into consideration each country’s burden of disease, economic imperatives and people’s preferences, establish/reconfigure prepayment arrangements for various population groups – leaving no one behind, to be financed via budget allocation and/or mandatory contributions, to reduce fragmentation, enhance equity and promote financial and social protection, dedicate a strong and continuous attention to quality and patient safety in healthcare systems in both the public and non-profit and for-profit private sectors, with an emphasis on engaging and empowering people to improve healthcare access.

Furthermore, the meeting called them to extend the coverage of quality health services, embracing family practice, improving infrastructure, increasing workforce availability, performance and relevance, and improving access to essential medicines and health technologies – considering available resources and equitable distribution, expand the goal of Universal Health Coverage to non- nationals residing within national territories, including refugees and migrant workers, as well as other marginalized groups, using innovative financing arrangements, improve the essential public health functions and preparedness plans and capacity to implement and monitor the International Health Regulations (2005) as part of the “one health approach” for strengthening health systems towards Universal Health Coverage, establish inclusive multi-sectoral platforms for policy dialogue to facilitate stakeholder involvement in formulating the vision for Universal Health Coverage and its subsequent implementation, adopt the principles of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus to ensure an integrated approach in countries affected by emergencies, strengthen national health information systems, including eHealth, to monitor progress towards Universal Health Coverage as part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, as well as strengthening governance arrangements to improve performance, accountability, responsiveness and participation, including awareness raising efforts for positive behaviour change.

The Salalah Declaration on UHC 2018 also called the development partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, other United Nations (UN) agencies and multilateral and bilateral donors and development banks, to support countries’ efforts by sharing global best practices, building national capacities, supporting inclusive policy dialogue on strengthening health systems to advance Universal Health Coverage, and facilitating resource mobilization to implement agreed strategies and options.

Further, the Declaration called the international community to extend its support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as key provider of health services to six million Palestinian refugees, in order to maintain its vital services to this vulnerable population, without negatively impacting the host countries.

The sessions of the day addressed the health security and Universal Health Coverage, promoting the inclusive national health systems for migrants and host communities along with monitoring Universal Health Coverage.

A high-level panel discussion on national experiences in advancing towards UHC in the emergency context and another panel discussion on the partnerships for Universal Health Coverage were held on the sidelines of the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health stressed the importance of the scientific sessions that were discussed during the Meeting, as well as the recommendations resulted in the Meeting emphasized at the same time on the importance of unifying efforts between the EMR countries towards Universal Health Coverage.

The three-day Meeting was hosted by the Sultanate, and organised by the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Eastern Mediterranean, in cooperation and collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The Ministerial Meeting sought to achieve several objectives that included introducing the policymakers to the most up-to-date knowledge and thinking on health systems, Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and sharing global best practices in effectively advancing UHC through health system strengthening. –ONA