SALALAH, Sept 3 – A crucial ministerial regional meeting for health sector titled ‘The Road to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the Eastern-Mediterranean Region (EMR)’ opened at the Sultan Qaboos Youth Complex for Culture and Entertainment on Monday. The opening day deliberations strongly recommended UHC, which stands for assurance to everyone to have access to health services irrespective of their financial situation. The high profile three-day meeting opened under the auspices of His Highness Sayyid Asaad bin Tareq al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs and Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan.
The meeting holds significance due to focus on non-communicable diseases in the context of UHC and direct participation of the EMR Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the main organiser of the meeting in association with the Sultanate’s Ministry of Health.
Dr Ahmed al Mandhari, WHO-EMR Regional Director, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, and Dr Naoko Yamamoto, UHC Assistant Director-General at the WHO, spoke about the challenges, trends and various steps being taken by the respective agencies to make a healthy global society while learning from each other’s experiences.
“We are gathering here to discuss a strategic and above all a noble cause: to pave the road for a key priority in our regional roadmap and ensure the fulfilment of one of the commitments of our member states in the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, which refers to Universal Health Coverage — for everyone, everywhere,” Al Mandhari said in his inaugural speech.
The meeting has representation of health experts, policymakers and health system analysts from 22 EMR countries. It also has local, regional and international participants.
Commenting on the importance of the meeting, a WHO representative said, “Such meetings draw high level policymakers, which is crucial for drawing roadmaps for various health issues. This session has been dedicated to the UHC, an important outcome on which is likely during the meeting.”
Right to health, human capabilities and health justice, macroeconomic policy and health financing for achieving the UHC are some of the important issues to be taken up during the three-day meeting.
An important issue of ‘inclusive national health systems for migrants and host communities’ is top on agenda, as the meeting has overall focus on health security to all.