Back to top

RHD Action attends WHO Regional Committee Meeting for the Western Pacific

26 October 2017
Prof Jonathan Carapetis delivers statement addressing rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in the WPRO region

Representatives from RHD Action recently attended the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee Meeting for the Western Pacific, held in Brisbane, Australia.

The WHO Regional Office of the Western Pacific (WHO WPRO) is made up of 37 countries and areas, representing approximately 1.8 billion people – or one quarter of the world’s population.

As with the other regional meetings, each meeting is guided by a specific agenda relevant to the region to determine regional health policy and to approve programs of work. The World Heart Federation – a founding member of RHD Action was represented by Professor Jonathan Carapetis (Director, Telethon Kids Institute and Co-Director, RhEACH), Dr Rosemary Wyber (Senior Technical Advisor, RhEACH) and Mr Jeremiah Mwangi (Director Policy and Advocacy, World Heart Federation).

Professor Jonathan Carapetis delivered a policy statement  on behalf of RHD Action that commended the attention given to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the overall agenda at this year’s meeting. The statement also focused on the importance of addressing rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease as part of efforts to prevent and control NCDs within the region. The statement also highlighted the importance of support towards the Draft Resolution on ‘Rheumatic Fever and rheumatic heart disease’. This global policy, which has been recommended for adoption at the World Health Assembly in 2018, will enable Member States to receive technical support to tackle this preventable disease.
Representatives of Country Delegations echoed the call for enhanced technical support on RHD during the meeting. The Cooks Islands made a statement on RHD in response to remarks from the Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Kirabati and Mongolia also made individual mention of RHD needs in their countries.
The meeting had a strong focus on NCDs (which includes rheumatic heart disease) in the formal agenda. The Regional Committee took particular note of WHO actions to strengthen country capacity and progress in areas of public health including NCDs. Health leaders at the meeting also endorsed the Western Pacific Regional Action Agenda on Regulatory Strengthening, Convergence and Cooperation for Medicines and the Health Workforce. This is intended to assist countries to strengthen their national regulatory systems, promote closer cooperation between countries to ensure people across the WPRO region can be confident of the safety of medicines and the competence of health workers.

The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attended the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific for the first time since he took office earlier this year and in his inaugural address to the meeting, said “I have come to realize that the world expects WHO to do three things: to keep the world safe, to improve health, and to serve the vulnerable…” Dr Tedros outlined his priorities, with particular emphasis on global health security, universal health coverage, and progress towards the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. The Director-General also sought ministers’ input to develop WHO’s programme of work for 2019-2023.

At the meeting Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appointed Ms Elizabeth Iro as the Chief Nursing Officer at the World Health Organization. Ms Iro is a registered nurse, and currently serves as the Cook Island’s Secretary of Health. In this capacity Ms Iro has been a vocal advocate for RHD control not only for the Cook Islands but more broadly throughout the region.

You can read RHD Action’s policy statement delivered at the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in full here.