The WHO South-East Asia Region’s member countries agreed to strive toward making “every school a health-promoting school,” as well as to ensure safe school operations during the pandemic. “Schools have a critical role in encouraging healthy lifestyles, lifelong healthy behaviors, and nurturing human capital for any society’s long-term growth.
At the Regional Committee meeting, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, remarked, “We need a whole-of-government strategy to guarantee that children from all socioeconomic backgrounds, including those with special needs, benefit from healthy schools.”
Member countries expressed concern about school closures during the ongoing pandemic, as well as the impact on learning, growth, and health of young children and adolescents, when the Regional Committee adopted a resolution to revitalise school health and health-promoting schools.
During the ongoing pandemic, member countries also discussed the importance of ensuring the safe reopening and operationalization of schools. The Member countries decided to build an integrated Regional Action Plan on viral hepatitis, HIV, and sexually transmitted diseases, linked with WHO’s global and 2030 SDGs targets, during the five-day meeting from September 6 to 10.
A declaration signed by Member countries at a ministerial round table to take lessons from the pandemic and strengthen health system resilience to ensure health security and achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals for health were among the other highlights of the Regional Committee meeting.
Abhijit Banerjee, a Nobel Laureate, spoke at the ministerial round table, emphasizing the importance of ensuring high-quality health-care services.
WHO and member countries of the South-East Asia Region explored ways to improve health emergency security systems in order to be better prepared for future health crises.
The discussion also touched on improving routine immunization coverage as well as continuing efforts to boost COVID-19 vaccination coverage.
Other Regional flagship goals discussed during the meeting included accelerating measures to prevent and manage the incidence of noncommunicable illnesses, taking action to eliminate measles and rubella, and progress on universal health coverage.
Due to the pandemic, the annual governing body conference, hosted by Nepal this year, was held remotely for the second year in a row.