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The urgent need for measures to prevent and control noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) was at the top of the agenda at the recent sessions of two WHO Regional Committees – the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) and Western Pacific (WPRO).
At the WPRO Regional Meeting in Brisbane, RHD Action – an initiative co-founded by the World Heart Federation – organized a reception focusing on the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in the region.
The event also highlighted the importance of the upcoming Member State discussion regarding a global Resolution on rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) at the World Health Assembly in 2018.
During the same week the EMRO Regional Meeting was held in Islamabad, Pakistan, where WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the establishment of a High-level global Commission on NCDs, to be chaired by Dr Sania Nishtar.
Advocacy Focus at the Regional Meetings
Taking place annually, the regional meetings are held to determine regional health policy and to approve programmes of work, and each of the 6 WHO regional meetings is guided by a specific agenda.
The World Heart Federation was represented at the EMRO Meeting by one of its Members, Professor Nizal Sarrafzadegan of the Iranian Heart Foundation, who delivered a policy statement calling for governments to take urgent action to tackle their CVD burden, particularly among vulnerable groups such as migrants and refugees.
WHF delegates at the WPRO Regional Meeting sought to highlight the regional burden of rheumatic heart disease, noting that cost-effective strategies were available to governments that could both save lives and health system spending.
Many Member States – particularly Pacific Island States – echoed this call for further action on RHD and expressed their support for a global Resolution to tackle this disease.
Another topic that featured strongly in discussions throughout the regional meetings was the development of WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work. This strategy document is scheduled to be discussed at the next Executive Board meeting, with a view to being adopted at the 71st World Health Assembly in May 2018.
You can read the World Heart Federation’s policy statements in full here.
Some photos from the regional meetings:
Prof Jonathan Carapetis of RhEACH calls for action on rheumatic heart disease in Brisbane, Australia
Prof Nizal Sarrafzadegan urges governments in the EMRO region to take action on CVD
The British Heart Foundation launches new brand story focused on “beating heartbreak forever”
Welcome to World Heart Day 2018
First Meeting of WHF RHD Taskforce