Tackling preventable diseases, funding universal healthcare and guaranteeing cervical cancer screening for girls are among the topics that will be addressed by Commonwealth ministers at a major health summit.
Creating one-stop crisis centres for the victims of gender-based violence will also be on the agenda at the annual Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM), which takes place this Sunday in Geneva. The CHMM findings will feed into the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, whose 71st meeting runs from 20-26 May in Switzerland.
Ministers from Commonwealth countries will agree on a range of measures to address debilitating lifestyle diseases and the strategic measures that are necessary to overcome them. They will also support pooled procurement of high-cost essential medicines and a more targeted approach to financing vaccines and health technologies.
Keynote speakers include the co-founder of The Elders and universal healthcare champion, Graça Machel, and the World Health Organization’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom. The meeting will be chaired by Rosy Akbar, Minister for Health and Medical Services in Fiji.
Mbololwa Mbikusita-Lewanika, health adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said, “This year’s meeting comes at a seminal moment for Commonwealth countries. We have a real opportunity to work collaboratively and creatively to address some of the of the biggest health challenges facing citizens from across the 53 member states.
“Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill millions of people across the Commonwealth each year. That is completely unacceptable in 2018. That’s why we’re setting out bold proposals for governments to consider which, if agreed upon, could be game-changers for many Commonwealth countries, especially the Small Island Developing States and low-and middle-income countries that are disproportionately affected and merit special attention.”
The theme of this year’s meeting is 'Enhancing the global fight against NCDs: raising awareness, mobilising resources and ensuring accessibility to universal health coverage’.
The main areas set to be discussed are:
Commonwealth collaboration and collective action
Sustainable financing of Universal Health Coverage
Health facility-based coordinated response to gender-based violence (GBV)