64th Session of WHO EMR

Resolutions set to strengthen public health


Ministers and delegates at the 64th Session of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Several important announcements were made, and resolutions endorsed, at the 64th Session of WHO’s Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean held in Islamabad from 9-12 October.

Among the topics discussed were Noncommunicable Diseases, health emergencies, polio, cancer, climate change, the health of adolescents and antimicrobial resistance, among others. The resolutions are expected to have a positive impact on the health of populations in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Cancer is the second leading cause ofdeath worldwide and estimates indicate that by 2030 the Eastern Mediterranean Region will have the highest increase in cancer burden among all six WHO regions. In its final resolutions, the Regional Committee endorsed a regional framework for action on cancer prevention and control to scale up guidance to Member States in support of international commitments and to guide country decisionmaking on policy options and priority interventions for cancer prevention and control according to national contexts.

Climate change is among the biggest global health threats of the 21st century posing serious, yet preventable, effects on human health and exacerbating morbidity and mortality, especially among vulnerable populations. The Regional Committee endorsed a framework for action on climate change and health to guide the health sector response to climate change, in collaboration with other health-determining sectors, and build the resilience of health systems.

The health of adolescents has for too long been neglected, but is now being recognized as central to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Regional Director expressed support for theHealth-in-all-Policies model and described the global school-based student health survey, designed to help countries measure and assess the behavioural risk factors and protective factors of young people as an important policy-making tool.

A resolution on antimicrobial resistance was adopted by the Regional Committee, urging Member States to develop and en-dorse national action plans in alignment with the global action plan, establish a high-level coordination mechanism and allocate adequate resources and develop and enforce policies and regulations to prevent purchase of antibiotics without prescription.

The next session of the Regional Committee will be held in Khartoum, Sudan, from 15 to 18 October 2018.

We mourn the death of Dr Mahmoud Fikri

It is with great sadness that we observe the death of Dr Mahmoud Fikri, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. He passed away on 17 October on his way to participate in the global high-level summit on Noncommunicable Diseases, in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Dr Mahmoud Fikri will long be remembered for his kindness, care, generosity and humane leadership.

Dr Fikri took offi ce as WHO’s Regional Director on 1 February 2017. In the short period of time since assuming offi ce, his dedication and diligence stood out. He was responsible for the recent and highly successful meeting of the Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean held in Islamabad, Pakistan, which was attended by Ministers of Health and delegations from the 22 countries of the Region. In the meeting, Dr Fikri’s vision and roadmap were endorsed and will pave the way for addressing the health priorities of the Region for the coming fi ve years.

Dr Fikri was formerly the adviser to the Minister of Health of United Arab Emirates and was previously the UAE’s Assistant-Undersecretary for Preventive Medicine and Health Policies Affairs in the Ministry.

All staff at Middle East Health extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and all his loved ones.

Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases

At the 64th Session of WHO’s Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced the establishment of a new High-level global Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs).

The commission’s aim is to identify innovative ways to curb the world’s biggest causes of death and extend life expectancy for millions of people. The commission will support ongoing political efforts to accelerate action on cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and respiratory disease, as well as reducing suffering from mental health issues and the impacts of violence and injuries.

The High-level global Commission will be chaired by Dr Sania Nishtar, a prominent global advocate for action against NCDs, former Federal Minister of the Government of Pakistan and civil society leader. Dr Nishtar has also previously served as co-chair of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.

NCDs kill approximately 40 million people globally each year, accounting for 70% of all deaths. About 15 million of those deaths are in people between the ages of 30 and 69. Low- and middle-income countries are particularly affected by NCDs with more than 80% of all deaths from NCDs occurring in these countries.

In 2015, world leaders committed to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by one third by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Recent WHO reports indicate that the world will struggle to meet that target.

“We urgently need new approaches and action on a dramatically different scale if we are to stop people dying unnecessarily from noncommunicable diseases,” said Dr Tedros.

“I am committed to engaging the very best people in the world to address our health challenges,” he added. “So, I am especially pleased that Dr Nishtar has agreed to lead this commission. I know she will bring impressive knowledge, credibility, and commitment to this effort.”

Roadmap for the Eastern Mediterranean Region

At the conference, Dr Mahmoud Fikri, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, presented the Annual Report of the Regional Director for the year 2016, and updated participants on progress in a number of key areas.

Looking ahead, Dr Fikri also shared his vision on the way forward for the Region through a roadmap that underpins his fi ve-year mandate as Regional Director. Through the roadmap, the Regional Director aims to increase WHO’s capacity to meet the needs of Member States by ensuring that WHO in the Region becomes ever increasingly effective, effi cient, accountable and transparent.

The roadmap has been developed around four interrelated pillars that translate the vision into action to guide WHO’s work: (1) public health priorities, (2) enabling factors, (3) WHO’s presence in countries, and (4) WHO’s working environment.

The five priority areas identifi ed for targeted action are: (a) emergencies and health security; (b) prevention and control of communicable diseases; (c) prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, mental health and substance abuse; (d) maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health; and (e) health systems strengthening to achieve universal health coverage.

Download the Roadmap of WHO’s work for the Eastern Mediterranean Region – 2017-2021

Watch sessions from the 64th Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean http://tinyurl.com/y8zp87a3

Watch the video of WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region work in health emergencies www.youtube.com/c/WHOEMR


Oman’s Dr Yasmin Ahmed Jaffer honoured

From left to right: Saira Afzal Tarar, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination; Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General; Dr Mahmoud Fikri, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean; and Dr Yasmin Ahmed Jaffer, recipient of the Dr A.T. Shousha Foundation Prize for 2017 and Dr Ahmed Mohammed Obaid Al Saidi, the Minister of Health of the Sultanate of Oman.

This year’s Dr A.T. Shousha Foundation Prize was awarded to Dr Yasmin Ahmed Jaffer of Oman for her signifi cant contribution to public health in Oman, particularly in the area of women’s and children’s health. Dr Ahmed Jaffer graduated from the College of Medicine, Baghdad University, in 1983, and received her Master’s degree in mother and child health from the Institute of Child Health, University College London, in 1989.

Dr Ahmed Jaffer is currently senior consultant and advisor in the Directorate-General for Primary Health Care, Oman.



Date of upload: 22nd Nov 2017

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