The 'National Forum on Revitalizing Public Health: Working Together for a Healthier Nation', commenced at Paradise Island Resort on Monday.
The three-day conference scheduled from November 4-6, was inaugurated by Vice President Faisal Naseem who reiterated the government’s commitment to providing affordable, inclusive and quality health care services across the country.
The Vice President highlighted that small island communities were neglected over the years despite efforts by previous governments to improve health care services. He guaranteed that the incumbent administration’s Strategic Action Plan (SAP) outlined how these issues will be addressed to ensure better, far-reaching and all-inclusive health care for all islands regardless of its population.
Moreover, the Vice President noted health sector achievements attained over the recent years including higher life expectancy, a steady decline in infant mortality rates and a decrease in maternal mortality.
Speaking about strengthening safe motherhood and child health, Vice President Naeem stressed the obligation of all citizens to care for children and provide them with the best possible health services, thereby ensuring they are vaccinated, breastfed, and have healthy lifestyles instilled from a young age. He further highlighted the administration’s policies on providing a better future for children and urged all relevant stakeholders to further enhance the School Health Programme and School Breakfast Programme. He also mentioned the successful policy of providing six-month maternity leave for all mothers.
Furthermore, he reflected on prevalent unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle changes which cause Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Maldives. In this regard, the Vice President Naseem urged health care professionals and the general public to promote healthy lifestyle choices such as opting for nutritious meals and regular physical activity as well as choosing to quit smoking which is a common risk factor in a number of NCDs while second-hand smoke also leads to illnesses.
The Vice President urged all stakeholders participating in the public health conference to utilise the findings and policies finalised during the discussions.
The main objectives of this conference include:
- Sensitizing policy makers on the need for and the impact of investing in public health for national development
- Inclusion of preventive/public health in all policies across the government and national institutions
- The urgency of accelerating evidence-based public health measures to meet the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs)
- Sharing lessons and opportunities for multi-sectoral collaboration and community partnerships to provide healthy living and working environments
- Empowering families for their health
- Discuss strategic pathways to integrate the full spectrum of public health services with an emphasis on primary and preventive health care in order to create a continuum of services from promotive, preventive to curative and rehabilitative services.
The main themes for discussion include multisectoral and community partnerships, re-orienting health services and human resources for public health as well as policy, financing and evidence-based communication for public health.
The strategic direction of the discussions will focus on achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the SDGs as per the government's Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for the years 2019-23.
A Public Health Charter and Roadmap to revitalize public health in Maldives will be compiled during the conference. Further perceived outcomes include stronger relationships between national and international stakeholders as well as a more comprehensive understanding of public health issues and greater commitment for a holistic implementation of public health policies.
The Ministry of Health is working to transform 2020 into a year of prioritizing public health.