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South East Asian Ministers Gather At WHO Regional Meeting

South East Asian health ministers met on Monday in Kathmandu, Nepal, for their 27th meeting during the 62nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for South East Asia, Republica reports. During the four day meeting, health ministers from 11 member countries and other delegates will discuss a range of topics, including: health and climate change, measles, international health personnel recruitment policies, private sector engagement, the South East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund, polio eradication, public health innovation, counterfeit medical products and pandemic influenza preparedness.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan addressed the Millennium Development Goals and highlighted the need for greater coordination especially with the current global economic crisis and the first influenza pandemic in four decades. “Developing countries have the greatest vulnerability to global crises and the least resilience. They are hit the hardest and take the longest to recover,” Chan said.

Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal opened the meeting and noted that his government’s health sector budget had “increased three-fold in the last few years” and was about seven percent of the country’s GDP. “Through the health sector review, the government is committed to further upgrade its health provisions,” he said (9/7).

Alex Andjaparidze, WHO representative to Nepal, said there needs to be proper preparedness for natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. He said that only 25 percent of health facilities in Nepal would survive an earthquake of more than 7.2 on the Richter scale, the Asian Tribune writes (Koirala, 9/8).