|Sri Lanka: Minister of Health pushes for urgent action on Climate Change …|
|Thursday, 22 May 2008|
The Hon Minister of Health of Sri Lanka, who headed the Sri Lanka delegation to the 61 st World Health Assembly urged the WHO and the world community to initiate action to address the serious health consequences that will result due to climate change.
Mr. President, Vice Presidents, Madam Director General, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all let me congratulate you Mr. President, and the Vice Presidents, for being elected to high offices in this Assembly.
On behalf of the people of Sri Lanka, I wish to express our deep sorrow and grief at the recent unfortunate tragedies that struck two of our Asian friends, Myanmar and China. Collectively we shall provide all the support necessary to restore the situation back to normal.Climate change and its implications for health have become one of our foremost concerns and demands urgent attention. It will also seriously threaten the realization of the Millennium Development Goals. The consequences of climate change on health have the potential for triggering major population displacements and, indeed, social conflicts.
Significantly, these will mostly occur in countries with the weakest public health capacity. Yet the knowledge, global and national concern levels on this challenge are totally inadequate. We strongly support the Resolution that is before this Assembly on Climate Change. Migration of Health personnel has an adverse impact on health systems of the developing countries, threatening their achievement of the MDG’s. Even though a dialogue is ongoing within the WHO and other international agencies in this regard, the code of practice or an appropriate mechanism to tackle this problem has not been finalized yet.
We need to accelerate our efforts to find a sustainable solution to this problem taking into consideration the socio economics, human rights and other issues in a balanced manner. The challenge of securing equitable access to health services for migrants is an issue crucially important to South Asia with millions of our citizens living and working abroad. As a practical policy measure, first of all we need to sensitize the policy makers and establish minimum standards of health care for all migrants. I would urge the WHO to take the lead to develop an International Charter to ensure fair and equitable health services to the migrants. We are happy with the initiatives of the WHO on Tobacco Control. We strongly support the Resolution on strategies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. Our National Alcohol and Tobacco Authority is now actively pursuing both demand and supply reduction. Sri Lankan President, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse, is personally providing leadership to the flagship program called “MATHATA THITHA”, which translates into “end substance abuse”.
Our malaria control programmme has achieved significant success, recording the lowest number of cases in nearly fifty years in 2007 and we are currently working with WHO to move to the elimination phase. In HIV too we remain a low prevalence country but need to continue to be vigilant with high quality surveillance. Let me compliment the Director General and endorse her comprehensive draft action plan for the global strategy for prevention and control of non communicable diseases. As a developing country which has seen many successes in health, especially in communicable diseases and reproductive health, we are now constrained to deal with the increasing disease burden due to non communicable diseases. These demand long term care, more complex interventions, and expensive technology, placing tremendous strains on human and financial resources in our health system. In most developing countries, malnutrition remains an obstacle in achieving Millennium Development Goals. It is confounded by the prevailing global food crisis and we urge the WHO to work with the UN and other partners to urgently address this crucial issue.Finally, I would be failing in my duty if I do not acknowledge the strong support that we continue to receive from the WHO and wish to convey a special word of thanks to you, Madam Director General, and Dr. Samlee, our Regional Director for South East Asia and the Sri Lanka Country Office. We look forward to continuing this strong partnership in the years ahead.
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 04 January 2009 )|
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