WHO’s Director-General inaugurates 68th session of Regional Committee for Eastern Mediterranean



Thu, 06 Oct 2022 - 09:14 GMT


Thu, 06 Oct 2022 - 09:14 GMT

CAIRO – 6 October 2022: After 2 years of being held virtually, the 69th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean will be held in hybrid modality this year from 10 to 13 October 2022.

Ministers of health and high-level representatives of the 22 countries of WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region, along with partner organizations and civil society, will participate, partially in person and mostly connecting online to discuss priority public health issues.

WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, and Vice-chair of the 68th session of the Regional Committee H.E. Dr Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh of Djibouti, will address the opening session.

The Regional Committee will discuss a range of key priority public health issues, including building resilient health systems to advance universal health coverage, preventing, controlling and eliminating communicable diseases, promoting health and well-being in the Region, advancing the One Health approach and fostering digital health.

"This past year has been challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact the Region. Alongside the grievous direct effects of the coronavirus disease itself – with almost 17.5 million confirmed cases and more than 317 000 deaths reported across the Region by early January 2022, – came severe disruption to health services, economies and communities. Meanwhile, disruption also brought opportunities, spurring large-scale investment and innovation," Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari stated.

The WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region is home to almost 700 million people and some of the world’s highest income countries but also fragile, conflict-affected states, characterized by crises and internal displacement.

The Region is faced with many challenges, and the regional vision of “Health for All by All” underline the importance of involving all sectors and stakeholders and engaging communities in supporting the various public health and social measures needed to overcome such challenges.

"Despite the challenges, together, we have made impressive progress in several areas, especially, in advancing towards universal health coverage: building stronger, better integrated, people-centred health systems; tackling communicable and noncommunicable diseases; and reaching out to refugees, migrants and displaced populations.

We have become experts in dealing with multi-hazard emergencies. In 2021, we responded to 10 large-scale humanitarian crises, 24 major disease outbreaks and 27 other public health events, all the time working tirelessly to strengthen preparedness for health emergencies," said Dr Al-Mandhari.

During the Regional Committee meeting, a technical paper will be discussed to set out a regional agenda for building resilient health systems towards universal health coverage and health security. The Region is prone to emergencies from various hazards, including conflicts and humanitarian crises. Several challenges hampered the performance of the Region’s health systems, particularly those in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings. COVID-19 further compromised all health system components, impacting the three universal health coverage goals. It also highlighted gaps in emergency management capacities that are undermining global and national health security. Advancing universal health coverage and ensuring health security are increasingly recognized as complementary and interrelated health system goals.





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