Meeting of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH) 2016

The Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health, met in London from 16-18 March to provided advice on matters of public health to be taken forward at the annual Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting to be held in Geneva on 22 May. As part of the meeting, experts from across the Commonwealth met to assess health security and universal health coverage ahead of the 2016 Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting.

In his address the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma welcomed member countries’ achievements in increasing life expectancy over the last two decades. He also underscored that challenges lie ahead in protecting and improving the health of citizens. “What more is needed than serving your citizens by protecting them from disease and improving their life expectancy,” Mr Sharma stated in his opening remarks. “Round the clock, round the world has to be our goal.”

One of the first online discussions hosted on the Health Hub is on ‘Global Health Security Challenges and Policy Responses’, which looks at the implications of the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and the Zika virus in South America, among other issues. In the discussion, practitioners are also being asked for their views on a Commonwealth Health Protection policy toolkit which is being developed for the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting.

Dr Neil Squires, Chair of the Faculty of Public Health Global Health Committee, said: “The huge financial costs of failing to respond rapidly or at sufficient scale to global health threats provides the most powerful argument for investing in prevention, promotion, protection and people.

“However, we all recognise that the reality in most countries, including the UK, is that public health budgets are often sacrificed to immediate health care needs and there is generally an under-investment in public health. Support to help health leaders make the economic case for public health action will be critically important.”

The Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health, made up of senior officials from different Commonwealth member countries, regional bodies and civil society organisations, serves as a link between health ministers and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The current chair is Shenaaz El-Halabi, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Botswana.

– See more and join the conversation online: Global Health Security Challenges and Policy Responses #Commonwealth #HealthHub @commonwealthsec