The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) ministerial meeting came out with a landmark agreement on universal health coverage and jointly signed UHC2030 Global Compact to pave the way for right decisions in that direction.
The three-day meeting took place in Salalah in which ministerial delegates from 22 EMR countries took part. The document signing holds importance due to the fact that Ministers of health and heads of delegations collectively approved the landmark document, making the region the first among World Health Organisation’s (WHO) six regions to do so.
The document means that signatory governments commit to work together effectively to accelerate progress towards UHC through building equitable, resilient and sustainable health systems. By joining UHC2030, the signatories will have access to a network of global health experts and the chance to share experiences and work collectively to strengthen health systems.
Dr Ahmed al Mandhari, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, called the meeting a huge success and called for continuous interaction for issues of general interest. “We invited countries of the region to sign the Global Compact jointly as a sign of regional commitment and solidarity towards UHC. Political will and commitment are essential to secure and sustain investment in health and drive appropriate health systems reforms,” he said.
During the meeting Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saidi, Minister of Health, highlighted the steps already taken by Oman towards achieving UHC, including expanding the package of essential health services provided to all of Oman’s population.
The participants also discussed efforts to strengthen health systems to achieve the UHC and safeguard against health crises.
With a motive of ‘leaving no one behind’, the meeting resolved to work on a key principle of the 2030 ‘Agenda for Sustainable Development’.
The Declaration called on health policymakers to define a country-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 marginalised 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 mobilisation 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 three-day Meeting was hosted by the Sultanate, and organised by the Regional Office of the WHO for the Eastern Mediterranean, in cooperation and collaboration with Oman’s Ministry of Health (MOH).
— With inputs from ONA
Participants thank HM
Muscat: Participants at the Ministerial Meeting “The Road to the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the Eastern-Mediterranean Region” thanked His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. The participants thanked His Majesty for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to them during their stay in the Sultanate. They also expressed their admiration of welfare enjoyed by the Omani citizens and residents under the wise leadership of His Majesty the Sultan.
The participants also thanked the Ministry of Health for organising the event. Thy also appreciated the efforts of His Majesty and his government in developing the healthcare network in the Sultanate and the level of progress being witnessed by the health sector in the Sultanate, as well as the constant efforts being exerted by the government to provide high-quality, efficient health services. They also appreciated the Sultanate’s continuous, constructive cooperation with international health organisations.
The WHO-UHC participants prayed Allah the Almighty to protect His Majesty the Sultan and grant him good health, wellbeing and a long life, and the Omani people permanent progress and prosperity.