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WHO Western Pacific Meeting Addresses Immunization, TB Control, Women’s Health

The WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific meeting continued with leaders discussing regional immunization goals, public health emergencies, TB control, and the health effects of urbanization, multiple news outlets report.

“Some member states in the region continue to have inadequate coverage of routine or supplementary immunizations to eliminate measles, achieve the hepatitis B goal, and mitigate the risks resulting from wild poliovirus importation, said WHO regional director Shin Young-soo,” Xinhua reports. The meeting also examined the success of immunization noting that “[a]n estimated 25 of the Western Pacific’s 37 countries and areas have likely eliminated measles and 27 will probably achieve hepatitis B control by 2012, reflecting a dramatic decline in measles incidence and deaths and in hepatitis B infection among children.” Shin added that countries need to make financial and human resources available to scale up vaccination efforts (10/14).

Shin also said the WHO is “better prepared than ever” to respond to new health challenges, the Philippine Star writes (Crisostomo, 10/14). The committee endorsed the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED), “which provides guidance to help governments better prepare to cope with various health-related emergencies,” such as dengue fever and food contamination, Xinhua also writes (10/13).

The committee also endorsed a Regional Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis (TB) Control 2011-2015, which “calls for the member states to raise their diagnosis capability, provide accessible medical services and strengthen the management of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB),” Xinhua reports in a separate article. The plan also “said that the latest WHO estimates showed that the Western Pacific Region was likely to achieve its goal of halving the prevalence and mortality by 2010 relative to 2000 due to the rapid expansion of directly observed treatment” for TB (10/13).

Xinhua also reports that Shin “called for renewed political commitment, stronger government leadership, and women-friendly health policies, systems and services to improve women’s health. Among the key areas of concern were pregnancy and childbirth, where health risks account for a large share of women’s morbidity and mortality, especially in low-income settings” (10/12).