Malta delivers Commonwealth health ministers statement at the World Health Assembly

The Hon Chris Fearne Minister for Health of Malta delivered the following Commonwealth Health Ministers statement at the opening day of the World Health Assembly.

Mr/Madam President, Madam Director-General, Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates.

I am pleased to be here, representing Malta as the 2016 Commonwealth Chair-in-Office to deliver the Commonwealth statement following its 28th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting held yesterday here in Geneva. This year, Commonwealth Health Ministers focused on the theme ‘Health Security and Access to Universal Health Coverage’.

Following the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the 53 Commonwealth Health Ministers noted the overarching Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and their collective commitment to deliver Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages. Wider priorities identified by the the Commonwealth Heads of Government included: violent extremism, climate change and migration. Health priorities included: health security and the role of health systems to enhance resilience, and a call for collective Commonwealth action for global health security and the reduction of all public health threats, including the global imperative of addressing antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, Heads of Government encouraged action for the final eradication of Polio, and to continue to address the challenges for non-communicable diseases.

Commonwealth Ministers recognised the importance of health security as a bridge to peace and stability, and the role that the health sector can play in strengthening global security, including preparedness and responses to public health threats and disasters, including the impacts of climate change as well as the role of health in addressing violence.

Commonwealth Ministers highlighted the impacts of climate change upon health and the benefits of the ‘One Health’ approach to promote sustainable well-being for all. Sustainable financing, including adaptation funds, were recognised as key to addressing the impacts of climate change on health, and were welcomed in particular by the 31 Commonwealth Small State Members.

Families were recognised as an important foundation for healthy populations and Ministers committed to addressing violence in the home and communities, and encouraged the Commonwealth in multi sector action for violence reduction to deliver physical and mental health, and well-being gains. Ministers acknowledging the importance of prevention, promotion and protection, as part of health systems strengthening and noted the announcement of the World Federation of Public Health Associations’ ‘Global Charter for the Public’s Health’.

Ministers recognised the importance of developing cost effective and cost efficient models and approaches to meet the sustainable financing needs of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. To enable country capacity for delivering health commitments, Ministers welcomed the further development of policy toolkits and the Commonwealth health hub for the promotion of innovation and the sharing of best practice.

Commonwealth Ministers also encouraged the reinforcement of partnerships, notably with WHO and regional bodies, to strengthen leadership, support global advocacy, identify future risks and solutions and mobilise resources. In particular, ministers encouraged measures for sustainable financing and investment for health.

In recognition of these challenges and emphasising the role that Commonwealth can play, Ministers agree on the theme for the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in 2017: to be: ‘Sustainable Financing of UHC as an Essential Component for Global Security Including the Reduction of All Forms of Violence’.

I invite member countries to view the full Ministerial Statement that is available on the Commonwealth Secretariat website. I thank you.

The statment is also available at the link below