Ministers of Health of six member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region, including Maldives, were felicitated on Wednesday for public health achievements in recent months such as measles elimination, hepatitis B control and elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis.
Maldives was recognised for eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand were hailed for becoming the first four countries from the Region to control Hepatitis B, and Sri Lanka for eliminating measles.
Presenting citations to the Ministers for their public health achievements at a side event during the 72nd Session of WHO Regional Committee of South-East Asia in New Delhi, Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said, “Disease eliminations have always been high on our agenda. When I talk about sustain, accelerate and innovate, ‘accelerate’ is to step up efforts to eliminate diseases like the neglected tropical diseases".
Maldives' Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen was presented a citation for eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis. Maldives is the second country in the region to have achieved this feat after Thailand.
Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine of Sri Lanka, Dr Rajitha Senaratne was presented the citation for measles elimination. Sri Lanka is the fifth country in the region to eliminate measles, a flagship priority programme of WHO in South-East Asia since 2014.
The citations for Hepatitis B control were presented to Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Upendra Yadav, Bhutan’s Minister of Health Dechen Wangmo, Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Public Health Sathit Pitutecha, and Additional Secretary and Health Services Division of Bangladesh, Md Saidur Rahman. Controlling hepatitis B by reducing disease prevalence to less than one percent among five-year-olds, significantly reduces chronic infections and cases of liver cancer and cirrhosis in adulthood.
This is the fourth consecutive year that the public health achievements awards were presented to member countries on the sidelines of the Regional Committee Session.
WHO noted that, with focused and concerted efforts, member countries are making substantial progress around the priority health issues.