Access to healthcare, polio and road traffic safety among key issues highlighted at 60th WHO EMR annual meeting
Sixtieth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern
Mediterranean was held in the Omani capital Muscat from 27-30 October
2013. The session
looked at a number a public health issues
and passed several resolutions pertinent to
the region, including universal health coverage,
polio and road traffic safety.
In his opening speech, Dr Ala Alwan,
WHO Regional Director of the World
Health Organization for the Eastern
Mediterranean, praised the advances that
Oman has made in health and social developments
Oman over the past four decades,
through its sustained commitment
to health and social development and
“The excellent collaboration between
WHO and Oman is a model that we aim
for with all Member States, and I extend my
particular appreciation to Oman for this admirable
achievement,” said Dr Alwan.
The Regional Director highlighted a number
of issues, such as strengthening health
systems, universal health coverage, maternal
and child health, international health regulations,
polio, non-communicable diseases
and the challenges faced by the Region regarding
health and the environment.
In her opening remarks HRH Princess Muna Al-Hussein, the WHO Patron of
nursing and midwifery in the Eastern Mediterranean
Region, stressed the importance
of strengthening public health by prioritising
the promotion of public health.
Dr Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Saidi,
Minister of Health of Oman, concluded
the opening ceremony saying the emergence
of several health issues as priorities
makes it obligatory for all of us to do more
for the health of our communities.
was an urgent need for more commitment
especially with the profound political, social
and economic changes in a number of
countries in the region.
Dr Saidi said: “The past two years has revealed the huge differences in the
of health systems, and the need to take urgent
measures to bridge the gaps.
“Strengthening health systems and making
them more efficient is a fundamental
strategy to promote comprehensive development
[in public health].”
A number of resolutions were passed at
the meeting. Importantly, one of the resolutions
addresses the escalation of polio
in the region, declared the circulation of
the polio virus in the region as an emergency
for all Member States. It called on
Pakistan to take necessary steps to ensure
all children are assessed and vaccinated as
a matter of utmost emergency to prevent
further international spread and requested
the Syrian Arab Republic and adjoining
countries to coordinate, and if possible, to
synchronize, intensified mass vaccination
campaigns using the most appropriate tactics
and vaccines to stop this new outbreak
within six months.
Another resolution addresses universal
health coverage. In this context the Regional
Committee called on Member States
to ensure sustained political commitment
to universal health coverage in order to ensure
that all people have access to essential
health services that are of sufficient quality
without the risk of financial hardship.
The Regional Committee also endorsed
the Dubai Declaration: Saving the lives of
mothers and children: rising to the challenge.
Committee Members urged high-burden
countries to strengthen multisectoral partnership
in order to implement their national
acceleration plans and allocate the necessary
human and financial resources and mobilize
additional resources as necessary.
The Regional Committee also endorsed
the regional strategy for the improvement
of civil registration and vital statistics system
2014–2019.; urging Member States to
give priority to the strengthening of their
national systems and develop multisectoral strategies to improve civil
vital statistics systems based on the findings
of an in-depth assessment and guided
by the regional strategy.
Another strategy endorsed by the
Regional Committee was the Regional
strategy on health and environment
2014-2019 and its framework for action.
It requested the Regional Director
to provide technical support to Member
States to adapt and implement the regional strategy and to build partnerships
with United Nations agencies and other
Adopting the Annual Report of the
Regional Director for 2012, the Regional
Committee urged middle income countries
to participate in the pooled vaccine
procurement system and to sign a memorandum
of understanding with WHO and
UNICEF to complete the participation
process before the end of 2013.
The Regional Committee requested the Regional
Director to support Member States in developing
and implementing strategies and
self-delivery approaches for rapid scale-up
of HIV treatment to improve the quality
of the planning cycle by building capacity
at the three levels of the Organization and
improving monitoring mechanisms.
WHO EMRO RC 60
WHO EMRO releases global status
report on road safety 2013
Eastern Mediterranean Region accounts
for 10% of the world’s road traffic deaths
The Global status report on road safety
2013: supporting a Decade of Action was
released at the 60th WHO Eastern Mediterranean
Regional Committee. The report
provides an update of the road safety
situation in countries across the world.
More importantly it sets the baseline for
monitoring action through the Decade
of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020.
The report presents information from
182 countries – including 19 countries
from the Eastern Mediterranean Region
– accounting for almost 99% of the
world’s population or 6.8 billion people.
Among other important information,
the report shows that only 28 countries,
covering 7% of the world’s population,
have comprehensive road safety laws on
five key risk factors: drinking and driving,
speeding, failing to use motorcycle
helmets, seat-belts and child restraints.
It indicates that, among other measures,
the pace of legislative change needs to
rapidly accelerate if the United Nations
Decade of Action for Road Safety
2011–2020 is to meet its target of saving
5 million lives.
The report also documents that between
2007 and 2010, 88 countries
managed to reduce the number of
deaths on their roads, showing that
improvements are possible. However,
the number of deaths increased in 87
countries during the same period. Worldwide the total number of road
traffic deaths remains unacceptably high
at 1.24 million per year.
Eastern Mediterranean Region
Data from the Eastern Mediterranean Region
show that it accounts for 10% of the
world’s road traffic deaths and has the second
highest road traffic fatality rate among
WHO regions after the African Region.
Middle-income countries of the Region account
for over 85% of its road traffic deaths.
On the other hand high-income countries
in the Region have road traffic death rates
that are double the rates in high-income
countries in other regions of the world.
This clearly shows that road traffic injuries
pose a grave problem for all countries in
the Region regardless of their income level.
More alarming is that the younger productive
age groups are hardest hit. About
60% of those who are killed in road traffic
crashes are between the ages of 15 and 44
years, and over 75% are male.
This is in line
with the most updated Global Burden of
Disease Data 2010, which shows that road
traffic crashes are the leading cause of death
among those aged 15-29 years in the Eastern
Of all road traffic victims in the Eastern
Mediterranean Region, about 45% are vulnerable
road users. The highest toll is among
pedestrians followed by motorcyclists and bicyclists.
Yet only a few countries have national policies and enabling environments
to encourage walking and cycling or to
separate vulnerable road users.
Laws on key risk factors are available
in the majority of the Region’s countries,
but are mostly not comprehensive.
This, together with inadequate
enforcement, limits their effectiveness.
And although most countries
have post-crash care systems, these
need strengthening both in terms of
trauma care and rehabilitation.
The 2013 Global status report is the
second in a series analysing the extent
to which countries are implementing
a number of effective road safety
measures. In addition to the five risk
factors noted above, it highlights the
importance of issues such as vehicle
safety standards, road infrastructure
inspections, policies on walking and
cycling and aspects of pre-hospital
It also indicates whether
countries have a national strategy
which sets measurable targets to reduce
the number of people killed and
seriously injured on the roads.
Global status report on road
of upload: 17th Jan 2014