By Asma’u Ahmad
Health ministers and senior officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the Western Pacific on Thursday vowed to eliminate neglected diseases, and improve hospital planning and management for health in the region.
At the 69th session of the WHO regional committee for the Western Pacific, the health leaders stressed the need to control and eliminate diseases that stigmatise and discriminate.
The WHO said people living in tropical and subtropical areas who lack access to adequate sanitation, basic infrastructure and health services often suffer from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
NTDs are group of diseases that can have severe health impacts and lead to stigma and discrimination, of which 15 are endemic in the Western Pacific region.
According to the WHO in a statement, the region has seen remarkable progress in combating NTDs in recent years.
The WHO said the new Regional Framework for Control and Elimination of NTDs in the Western Pacific, endorsed by the health leaders, will build on these achievements and strive to end the scourge of NTDs in the Western Pacific.
The delegates also endorsed the Regional Action Framework on Improving Hospital Planning and Management in the Western Pacific.
“Although hospitals occupy a central place in health service delivery, countries can struggle to ensure hospital services are effectively planned and managed,’’ the WHO said.
The leaders also endorsed an action plan to harness e-health to improve health service delivery in the region, saying e-health can be a strategic tool for countries to improve access, expand coverage and reduce costs.
“E-health can enable people living in rural and remote areas to access good quality care, and provide timely and detailed information to assist in the prevention, early identification of needs, diagnosis and management of illnesses,’’ the WHO said.