Sunday, 23 September 2018
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PHILIPPINE STATEMENT  |  71st Session of the World Health Assembly

GENEVA, Switzerland (DWDD) – “Health for all: Commit to Universal Health Coverage” this was the title of the statement made by Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III during the 71st Session of the World Health Assembly from May 21 to 26, 2018 at Geneva, Switzerland

According to Sec Duque, this year’s theme, “Universal Health Coverage: everyone, everywhere,” is timely and urgent because the vision is embodied in the Philippine Health Agenda of the Duterte Administration where its goal is to reach UHC by 2022 where they further envision the FIlipino people to be the healthiest in Asia by 2040.

Duque added that to make this happen they have embarked on the following actions:

1) National legislation that will enable a whole-of-society approach in 2018. This law will strengthen primary health care in the country fully aligned with the principles of the Alma Ata Declaration as the bedrock of health reform towards truly achieving “Health for All.”

2) Investing in health, particularly in prevention. The Philippines is proud of the progress made in using tobacco taxes for health through the Sin Tax law that increased tobacco prices, reduced tobacco consumption and generated revenues for the health. But even with the windfall of resources, these are not enough to address the increasing burden of diseases and expectations of the public for quality health services. Efforts are being made to ensure wiser use of these funds, particularly for prevention of disease and premature mortality.

3) Promoting good governance in health. We aim to be an accountable organization, with clear goals, targets and timelines for reaching UHC. We also aim for increased transparency by providing platforms for patients and citizens to participate in the policy process.

He also commended World Health Assembly Presdient and Minister of Health of Zimbabwe, Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the staff of the WHO as it celebrates 70 years of WHO’s global leadership in health.

Dr Tedros has changed the face of the Organization, by immediately putting measures into place to address the gender disparity in the WHO Secretariat, as well as the under representation of WHO staff who come from developing countries. This ushers in a new era in WHO with more women in leadership positions and we are keen to see this happen not just in Headquarters but in the Regional and Country Offices as well.

The world commend Dr Tedros hands-on leadership resulting in speed and efficiency of the emergency response to the current ebola outbreak. We are supportive of the move to strengthen health emergency response in the regions and the countries, closer to the actions and needs.

Last week the WHO also launched an initiative to eliminate trans-fats. The Philippines will now include this in the health agenda to reduce the burden of NCDs.

DG’s initiative to address the health effects of climate change in small island developing states is strongly supported by the Philippines. And as an archipelago of more than 7100 islands that are climate vulnerable, we hope to play a more active role in facilitating dialogues on sharing and scaling-up practical solutions for island countries and entities.

The WHO turns 70 this year and we see a different and more dynamic WHO.

These are exciting times for the Organization. And while perhaps in other fora the multilateral system is in retreat, the Philippines feels that the discourse on global public health needs to be bold and ambitious if we are to cope with the unprecedented speed of change in health determinants that makes our work challenging but unspeakably fulfilling. DOH / MCAG

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