WHO ministerial meet proposes measures for universal health coverage in region

September 06, 2018

The ministerial meeting on ‘Road to Universal Health Coverage in the Eastern Mediterranean Region’ concluded on Wednesday with the Salalah Declaration. A number of important recommendations concerning universal health coverage in the region were issued.

The recommendations of the Salalah Declaration called for health policy-makers to identify a context-specific basic health package based on priority package for universal and regional health coverage, taking into account disease burden in each country, economic requirements and people's preferences.

The recommendations also called to devote strong and sustained attention to the quality and safety of patients in public and private healthcare systems.

The declaration recommended that the goal of universal health coverage be expanded to include expatriates residing within national territory, including refugees, migrant workers and other marginalised groups, using innovative financing arrangements, promoting essential public health functions, preparedness plans and capacities for implementation of the International Health Regulations of 2005.

The declaration also appealed to the international community to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which plays an important role in providing health services to 6mn Palestinian refugees. The meeting also included several scientific sessions, high-level public debates and open discussions.

H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid al Sa'eedi, Minister of Health, delivered a speech at the end of the meeting, in which he stressed the importance of scientific topics dealt within the meeting and the important recommendations issued by the Salalah Declaration, stressing at the same time the importance of unifying the efforts in the region in achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Dr Ahmed bin Salim al Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said that the meeting of the heads of delegations is a message to the whole world that everyone's health is for everyone and everyone concerned.

Dr Akjemal Magtymova, representative of World Health Organization (WHO) in Oman quoting Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This echoed the last day’s theme of the ministerial meeting, which discussed the role of preparedness, emergencies and health security.

Dr Magtymova added, “The road to ‘Health for All’ is challenging in the Eastern Mediterranean because of conflicts and humanitarian emergencies. But strong health systems are the best investment in reducing inequalities, and the best defence against the impact of emergencies.”

Officials at the last day of the meeting said that one of WHO's measures of financial protection is to reduce the catastrophic spending on health and the poverty gap due to out-of-pocket spending on health.