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South-East Asia Region Made ‘Notable Progress’ In Advancing Right To Health: WHO Regional Director

From enhancements in healthcare coverage to declines in maternal and child mortality rates, there are achievements to be celebrated said, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Region, Saima Wazed

World Health Day 2023: How India Is Reiterating Its Commitments Towards Ensuring ‘Health For All’
WHO's Constitution came into force on April 7, 1948, a date now celebrated every year as World Health Day

New Delhi: Echoing with the sentiments of this year’s World Health Day’s theme – “My Health, My Right” – Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Region, Saima Wazed, on Saturday (April 6), said that South-East Asia Region has made “notable progress” in advancing right to health. “Our South-East Asia Region has made notable progress in advancing this right to health. From enhancements in healthcare coverage to declines in maternal and child mortality rates, there are achievements to be celebrated,” Wazed said on the eve of World Health Organisation’s founding anniversary.

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She also highlighted pressing issues in the region’s healthcare landscape, saying that there is not enough health service coverage and that the government’s expenditure to improve the services is also too low.

Addressing the dire situation where nearly 40 per cent of the population lacks essential health services coverage, the director underscored the urgency for increased government expenditure and improved access to quality healthcare.

Despite strides in healthcare coverage and reductions in maternal and child mortality rates, financial barriers persist, exacerbating the plight of vulnerable groups. The director emphasised the rise in “out-of-pocket expenses” due to inadequate government funding, hindering access to basic healthcare services.

Ms Wazed said,

Challenges remain. Nearly 40 per cent of our regions population still lacks essential health services coverage. Current government expenditure remains unacceptably low, leading to high expenses for many.

According to Wazed, under the theme ‘My Health, My Right,’ this year’s World Health Day serves as a poignant reminder of the fundamental human right to quality health services, education, and information.

Ms Wazed said,

This year’s theme was chosen to champion the right of everyone everywhere to have access to quality health services, education and information. It tells us of the right to safe drinking water, clean air and good nutrition. It reminds us that quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination should be enjoyed by everyone.

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In light of these challenges, the director articulated a vision for Southeast Asia, characterised by “holistic approach to health and well being and are physically and mentally empowered to achieve their full potential”.

Emphasising health as a basic human right, the WHO Regional Director said,

We want a region where this right is enjoyed by everyone starting from before birth, including the most vulnerable, and covering every community.

However, amidst commendable progress, disparities persist, with gender disparities in non-communicable disease diagnosis and treatment, and the prevalence of poor-quality care impacting health outcomes.

Ms Wazed in a video message said,

From enhancements in health coverage to declines in maternal and child mortality rates, there are achievements to be celebrated. Financial hardships in accessing basic health care are unfortunately on the rise. Vulnerable groups encounter disproportionate obstacles in accessing health care. Gender disparities persist in the diagnosis and treatment of non communicable diseases. Poor quality care takes a heavier toll on health outcomes than mere lack of access to care. However, amidst these challenges, we remain steadfast in our commitment to a rights based approach to health, we must ensure equality, participation, and accountability in healthcare decision making processes, she added.

The director also urged governments to prioritise health investments and strengthen healthcare systems, while emphasising the obligation of duty bearers, including governments and the WHO, to uphold the right to health for all individuals.

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She concluded,

Let us renew our resolve to make the right to health a reality for all. Let us set course towards a future where health is not a privilege, but a promise–a promise to safeguard the dignity and well being of everyone everywhere.

WHO’s Constitution came into force on April 7, 1948, a date now celebrated every year as World Health Day.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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