67th session of WHO committee for Eastern Mediterranean
Monday، 19 October 2020 - 05:00 PM
The 67th session of the Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean is scheduled to take place on Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 October 2020, exact timings to be confirmed.
The meeting will be conducted virtually using the Zoom video conferencing platform, facilitated from WHO’s Regional Office in Cairo, Egypt.
WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Ahmed Al-Mandhari will address the opening session.
Health ministers and high-level representatives, from 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, will participate virtually in the session to discuss health issues, WHO said, adding that the session will also gather partner organisations and civil society groups.
Ministers and representatives will review the coronavirus pandemic’s evolution and current status in the region, including the response to the novel virus, the statement added.
They will also review the direct impact of the pandemic on morbidity, mortality and essential health services.
Health Minister Dr Hala Zayed chaired the 67th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean.
Health ministers and high-level representatives from 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region are participating in the two-day virtual session to discuss health issues.
Addressing the 67th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean, Zayed urged the WHO to provide the vaccines at affordable prices for middle-income countries.
Zayed extended thanks to WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for his efforts to save the lives of millions of people.
The World Health Organization will remain the first and main pillar for countries when it comes to dealing with health issues, Zayed said, praising the exchange of consultations and cooperation and among the committee members to face the coronavirus pandemic.
Zayed has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide free coronavirus vaccines to low-income countries, especially to the societies that are most vulnerable to the deadly disease.
The two-day virtual session, headed by the Egyptian minister, who was elected unanimously to head the session, is attended by high-level representatives from 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region and aims to discuss health issues.
The minister urged all countries to participate in clinical trials for vaccines against the coronavirus and other diseases.
She stressed the importance of supplying crisis-stricken countries with the necessary drugs and medical supplies to confront the pandemic, saying, "This crisis cannot be handled individually or just by material resources."
The minister highlighted the significance of reopening the economy in parallel with combating the virus.
Zayed also thanked the medical teams who sacrificed their lives to serve their countries during the pandemic.
Health Minister Hala Zayed announced the formation of a regional committee at the level of health ministers in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to eradicate "polio" in line with recommendations of the 67th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean.
Speaking at the meeting's closing session, the health minister, who is the chair of this year’s Regional Committee, said that Egypt's participation in this committee falls within the framework of enhancing cooperation to ensure that children are vaccinated against polio with the view to reaching a polio-free region.
The minister called on the WHO to encourage countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region to maintain routine immunization services and not to be affected by the special preparations for the second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
She stressed the need to provide the necessary support to all countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region via exchanging expertise, manpower and technical support.
She also underlined the necessity of adopting an action plan to address the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) during the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
She called for finding creative solutions and innovative ways to ensure the appropriate delivery of health services during the pandemic.
Zayed stressed the need to enhance the ability of the countries of the region in manufacturing medicines and medical supplies, along with ensuring their ability to cater for their needs on their own.
She urged countries of the Eastern Mediterranean to accelerate their steps to provide universal health coverage (UHC) for all peoples in the region.
Zayed also stressed the importance of coordination between the WHO and other organizations to promptly respond to the urgent needs of peoples suffering from conflicts or natural disasters, as well as countries affected by economic challenges due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed al-Mandhari said that more than 2.6 million COVID-19 infections and 66,000 fatalities have been registered in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Speaking at a press conference at the closing session of the 67th WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean, Mandhari said that the number of confirmed daily cases and deaths is still surging, causing great concern in a number of countries of the region.
The pandemic has affected the healthcare services, including elective surgery services, treatment of chronic diseases and facing health emergencies and crises, Mandhari said.
He went on to say that he does not exaggerate if he says that the COVID-19 pandemic's impacts are more dangerous than the pandemic itself.
He further noted that the convocation of the regional committee nearly nine months after the global outbreak of the pandemic represents a necessary pause for all of us to review how the WHO office dealt with COVID-19 and to implement the strategy of the WHO regional office during the pandemic and the post-pandemic period.
Discussions over the past two days resulted in taking a number of important decisions that would provide the basis of the WHO work at the regional and national levels in the coming phase, Mandhari said.
The decisions included a call to continue work and implement the national action plans for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and update them regularly, along with ensuring that related data is accurately reported to the organization and in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005), he underlined.
Health Minister Hala Zayed, who is the chair of this year’s Regional Committee, participated in the press conference.
Ministers and representatives from across the Region discussed the impact of the pandemic on health systems and society more generally, and the conference itself was impacted by the pandemic, with participants meeting virtually online rather than in person.
Ministers of health and other representatives from Member States in the Region highlighted the challenges they face in responding to COVID-19, but also gave many examples of new approaches to tackle the pandemic and maintain essential health services.
They highlighted the importance of working across sectors, ensuring Health in All Policies, and taking a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach as well as solidarity within and between countries.
Member States also discussed their experiences as part of regional initiatives and international research efforts, and expressed a keen desire to learn lessons and rebuild better in the post-pandemic era.