SAARC Meeting - Delhi Declaration on Public Health Challenges

SAARC Meeting - Delhi Declaration on Public Health Challenges

Question - SAARC/South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has recently held a Health Minister’s Meeting. Highlight the main points of the Delhi Declaration on Public Health Challenges which was the outcome of this meeting.

SAARC Delhi Declaration on Public Health Challenges: Highlights

• The fifth meeting of SAARC Health Ministers adopted the Delhi Declaration on Public Health Challenges

• The Declaration recorded the progress made for cooperation and collaboration of Member states

• The Declaration also emphasised on preparedness for emerging and remerging diseases and challenges being faced in the sphere of antimicrobial resistance and non-communicable diseases

• Global integration, trade as well as travel and commerce make countries vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases and pathogens from any corner of the globe

• The Declaration recognised that health systems and response mechanisms need further strengthening in each nation, especially nations with limited financial and technological resources

• The Declaration also mentioned the achievements of healthcare workers for containing the present Ebola outbreak in various nations

• The Declaration also noted the recommendations of the Expert Group on HIV/AIDS and recognised the need for acceleration of efforts to end AIDS epidemic in the region by 2030

• The Declaration also highlighted the need for a fully formulated response to NCDs/Non Communicable Diseases while stressing that 80% of the deaths linked to chronic NCDs occur in developing nations

• The Declaration also acknowledged the importance of traditional, conventional medicines for complete healing of the body and mind by including them as a holistic part of healthcare and knowledge sharing, experience and regulatory mechanisms of respective Member States for meeting public health needs

• SAARC Member States will work together for cooperating and collaborating for identification of health issues, according to the Declaration

• The Declaration also aims at strengthening cooperation on mutually agreed agreements for controlling as well as preventing diseases and sharing information in accordance with global health regulations and capacity strengthening for monitoring and surveillance of diseases and expansion of diagnostic facilities

• The Declaration reaffirmed the commitment for decisions taken at early meetings of SAARC health ministers and stressed the need for early implementation of these

• The Declaration declared the resolve of Member States to strengthen cooperation and promote availability and effective coverage of reasonably priced vaccines including pentavalent vaccine and work to make the SAARC region polio free

• The Member Nations also agreed to take coordinated action for prevention and control of Hepatitis, a major public health issue in the region

• The momentum of actions under the Regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS will be maintained, according to the Declaration through sharing of experience and expertise in areas of surveillance, formulation of existing and new strategies to prevent HIV spread, scaling up of affordable treatment to achieve 90-90-90 HIV Treatment Target 2020, to quickly lower the incidence of new HIV infections and AIDS associated deaths from TB with a view to eradicating AIDS by 2030

• The Declaration extended a welcome to the SAARC Supra-national Reference laboratory for TB and HIV/AIDS which has been established in Kathmandu and India’s commitment to meet the balance cost not yet covered by contributions of Member States

• The Declaration also made a reaffirmation of the commitments reflected through adoption of Resolution on Prevention and Control of NCDs including an action and monitoring framework as per the 27th May resolution of the World Health Assembly

• The Declaration also reaffirmed the commitments as per the WHO Framework on Convention on Tobacco Control

• The Declaration also emphasised the commitment of member states to combat mental disorders such as autism and neurodevelopment disorders through a varied strategy stressing mental health policy, a life cycle approach to meet the needs of individuals and formulation of innovations in promoting mental health as well as diagnosis and management plus exchanging best practices amidst Member States

• The Member States also agreed as part of the declaration to strengthen the HR capacity development in clinical medicine and public health

• The Declaration also agreed to accord high priority to battle anti-microbial resistance, prevention systems of infection control, accurate prescriptions and consumption practices, widespread access to antibiotics, research and development in the field of healthcare and assessment of the impact of the use of antibiotic in agricultural and animal husbandry sectors while assessing the financial plus other resources required too

• The Declaration works to enhance collaboration and linkages among Member States with respect to health research among SAARC nations through identification of nodal technical officers from concerned health, medical research councils, units and departments to identify scientists and researchers to undertake joint collaborative research projects in key areas. It also emphasised the need for a list of laboratories to provide training/exchange of expertise with other member states and organise research methodology workshops

• The Declaration also works to cooperate towards improving standards, certification and regulatory mechanisms for drugs and pharmaceuticals to promote reasonably priced, high quality medicines in SAARC Member States

• The Declaration stressed the resolve of Member States to promote access to medication through the use of TRIPS flexibilities and take steps to protect public health interest through bilateral and regional trade agreements

• The Declaration also cooperates in the field of traditional systems of medication including expert visits, organisation of symposia, courses on traditional medicine as part of global fellowships or country support projects, boosting of educational standards and quality assurance as well as standardisation of drugs to improve the availability of medicinal plant materials, R&D efforts as well as awareness generation

• The Declaration also voiced the decision to hold annual meetings of the Technical Committee on Health and Population Activities for facilitating intra-regional cooperation as well as implementation of decisions occurring in earlier meetings of SAARC Health Ministers

Facts and Stats

• SAARC Member states account for nearly a quarter of the world population and face public heath challenges, according to the Declaration

• Past efforts from deliberations in the following previous meetings were also discussed:

- Maldives 2012
- Dhaka, April 2006
- Islamabad 2005
- New Delhi 2003

• The Declaration placed special emphasis on the meeting by Heads of States at the 18th SAARC Summit in Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu; The importance of achieving universal health coverage and improving health regulatory systems was stressed upon

• Fifth Meeting of Technical Committee Meeting on Health and Population Activities discussed the important issues of SAARC member states. The Delhi Declaration noted the following recommendations made at this meeting:

- Need for high quality and high coverage immunisation for vaccine preventable diseases along with modernised monitoring systems
- Taking action for the prevention and control of TB, vector borne diseases, Hepatitis B and C, non communicable diseases and mental health disorders
- Formulation of global health regulations and prevention of contagious diseases
- Prevention and containment of the threat of antimicrobial resistance
- Enhancing quality an availability of HR for health
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