25 May, Kathmandu: Minister for Health Gagan Thapa has stressed the need of mainstreaming health agenda, strengthening primary health care, reducing cost of drugs, lessening the burden of non-communicable diseases for LDCs and preparing ground for equitable access to quality health care through Universal Health Coverage.

Minister Thapa pointed out such needs while delivering the national statement of Nepal at a plenary session of the Seventieth World Health Assembly in Geneva on Wednesday, said a press release issued by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to UN, Geneva.

He opened his statement, expressing solidarity with the world community by condemning the attack of terrorism in Manchester which occurred on 23rd May, and extended his condolences to the victims and families on behalf of Nepal. He also thanked the outgoing Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan for her ten years of distinguished service for the cause of health issues of people all over the world.

Congratulating the newly elected Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister Thapa wished for his successful tenure. Underpinning the paramount importance of health and remaining healthy, he stated that for countries like Nepal, implementing the health related goals and targets means fulfilling the pledge of leaving no one behind.

His statement highlighted the importance of effective global partnerships for positive health outcomes that can be instrumental in economic progress, peace and stability. He also underlined that south-south cooperation should be strengthened to harness its true potentials in the area of health.

Moreover, the Minister outlined the need of integrating health into the core businesses of various sectors, and called on the WHO to facilitate the health agenda through the regional offices and forums such as ASEAN, SAARC and AU, etc., through constructive engagement.

The WHO was urged to play a catalytic role in incorporating health matter broadly in all relevant sectoral businesses.

On 23 May, Minister Thapa held a bilateral meeting with Health Minister of India, Mr. Jaggat Prakash Nadda. They discussed the health issues of mutual interests, particularly exploring mechanisms for regulation of cross-border flow of medicines and possibility of initiating bilateral cooperation in areas of health, especially on NCDs.

The World Health Assembly commenced on 22 May in Geneva. As the world’s highest policy-making body governed by 194 members, the Assembly meets every year where Health Ministers’ delegations deliberate and take decisions. Some 3,500 delegates from WHO Member States, including a large number of health ministers of member states, are attending the Health Assembly which ends on 31 May.

This year, the Assembly also elected, the new Director General of World Health Organization on 23 May. Among three contenders, each from Ethiopia, Pakistan and the UK, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia got elected with over two third majority votes for a five year term which will begin on 1 July 2017. RSS