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Colombo declaration for Commonwealth health ‘will shape global agenda’

16 October 2016

Both the president and the prime minister of Sri Lanka, have taken part in the launch of the Colombo Declaration to ensure better health across the Commonwealth. The new commitment, enabled by the Secretariat, has eight priorities to reduce inequalities and improve health and well-being for all Commonwealth citizens.

At the inauguration of the Commonwealth Medical Association, President Maithripala Sirisena, said:

“I look forward to the Colombo Declaration, which sets an agenda for action in the field of health in the Commonwealth in the years to come. I wish the Commonwealth Medical Association all the success.”

The declaration sets a minimum investment of 6% of GDP on health systems, with spending to be prioritised in the most cost effective approaches towards public health and primary health care. Key areas of focus outlined in the eight-point pledge include training a multidisciplinary health workforce and promoting the development of innovative digital health solutions.  Governments of all Commonwealth member countries are being called upon to uphold and deliver on the agreed ambitions by 2019.

Professor Vajira Dissanayake, who was inaugurated as president of the Commonwealth Medical Association at the opening of the triennial event, commended the collaborative nature of the declaration. The Commonwealth Medical Association, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association, Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Association, Commonwealth Association of Paediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition, Commonwealth Dental Association and Commonwealth Association for Health and Disability have all committed to the declaration.

Professor Dissanayake said: “This is the first time in history that we have had such a declaration, to which so many organisations are signatories and supporting.  This is a unique achievement that we should be proud of. It lives up the theme of the Commonwealth this year, an inclusive Commonwealth. This will shape the global agenda.”

In keeping with the ‘Digital Health’ theme, Professor Dissanyake said the projects were top of his agenda as the new incumbent president of the medical association. Among them is eVarsity, a virtual university which offers online courses sharing best practice from around the globe to promote continuous medical education. Professor Dissanyake also promised to embark on digital health projects across the Commonwealth.

The Sri Lanka Sunday Times reported on the event here

Photos and interviews available on request