By Our Correspondent
On 17th May, health ministers of the 54 member states of the Commonwealth, along with partner organisations, civil society and policymakers will gather for the annual Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) from May 17 to May 19.
In a communication by Commonwealth, the meeting will be held virtually under the theme ‘The Road to COVID-19 Recovery: Lessons Learnt for Building Health System Resilience to advance UHC and Global Health Security in the Commonwealth’ and will provide a forum for health leaders to assess the current health situation in the Commonwealth and discuss key resolutions and areas of action on public health issues as the world recovers from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than one million of our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth,” the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, said
COVID-19 vaccine equity remains a critical issue in the Commonwealth, and across the world – with more than 40% of the 2.5 billion people across our family of 54 nations yet to receive a single dose.
The pandemic has also exposed the inherent weaknesses and inequities in our health systems, with even the most advanced health systems dealing with major disruptions to essential services and strains on the workforce. This has been magnified for the Commonwealth’s small and least-developed states.
As Commonwealth Health Ministers convene, we all share a clear need to ensure our health systems are well-prepared, well-resourced, and flexible enough to withstand the shocks caused by health-related emergencies – and to provide the foundation for sustainable development.
We can achieve these goals by working together and I am confident that we can emerge from this week’s Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting, and look towards the World Health Assembly and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, with renewed unity and purpose.”
In keeping with the spirit of cooperation among member states, participants will have the opportunity to share knowledge and good practices in building resilient health systems, reflect on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to inform ongoing recovery, and explore innovative approaches that can be adopted by member countries on challenges such as vaccine inequity and strategies to bolster health systems.
This ministerial meeting will also build on existing commitments from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2018 and the CHMM meeting in May 2021, including advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals towards global health security, addressing Non-Communicable Diseases, Cervical Cancer, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), as well as COVID-19 recovery and resilience.
The 2022 Commonwealth Malaria Report will also be launched on the margins of the meeting, providing a snapshot of the challenges and progress being made to meet malaria targets. It will also show important insights into the trends in malaria interventions in the run-up to CHOGM and the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs. Breakout sessions will also offer a platform to discuss the latest regional issues regarding pandemic management, digital health and sustaining health gains.
This year’s meeting is being chaired by Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Dr Christopher Tufton, and will include a keynote address from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a ministerial statement that outlines policy proposals for adoption and implementation will be issued and serve as a collective commitment for Commonwealth countries. A set of key policy recommendations will also be put forward for discussion at the upcoming CHOGM in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2022.