HEALTH SECRETARY DUQUE FINISHES TERM AS WHO REGIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON FOR THE WESTERN PACIFIC REGION

Press Release | 26 October 2021

Himeji, Japan -- Philippine Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III on Monday led 37 Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region during the Opening Session of the 72nd Regional Committee Meeting (RCM) as its outgoing chair. The WHO Member States elected the Philippines as chair during the Committee's 71st Session in October 2020.

“Even though the pandemic has taken a lot from us, it hasn’t taken away our drive to serve the people of this Region to the best of our abilities, and this meeting is a testament to that,” Secretary Duque said addressing the Western Pacific Regional Committee.

Secretary Duque highlighted updates and progress reports on the COVID-19 in the Western Pacific Region, vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization, ageing and health, and safe and affordable surgical interventions. He reported three action plans and strategic frameworks that were endorsed by the Committee: (1) Regional Action Plan on Healthy Ageing in the Western Pacific, (2) Regional Strategic Framework for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization in the Western Pacific, and (3) Action Framework for Safe and Affordable Surgery in the Western Pacific Region.

With the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on older adults, the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific Region (WPRO) developed and implemented the Regional Plan on Healthy Ageing in the Western Pacific which sets out an advocacy for healthy older adults who could thrive in and contribute to society. Technical information and support for Member States to identify, reach, and protect older persons from the virus are provided by the WPRO.

As response to the immunization of the Western Pacific population, Regional Strategic Framework for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization in the Western Pacific provided a guide to both WHO and Member States’ vaccination and immunization programs over the last 12 months. By 2030, the Committee envisions the Region free from vaccine-preventable morbidity, mortality, and disability.

The pandemic has also brought out the necessity to address hospitalization and surgical systems in the region. Action Framework for Safe and Affordable Surgery in the Western Pacific Region provides an enabling structure to identify the gaps in surgical systems, and to address issues on pricing and quality of consumables, as well as, upgrading surgical capacities in countries around the Western Pacific.

“We have another busy few days ahead of us – although in different circumstances to previous meetings. I look forward to working with all of you through this innovative hybrid format to advance our Region’s health agenda”,  said Secretary Duque.

The Government of Japan hosted the 72nd Session of the WHO Regional Committee Meeting for the Western Pacific.

###