There are significant global health challenges that require concerted action from us.
Infant and maternal mortality:
Prevalent rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity (illness and disability) remain high in many Commonwealth countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. The top 10 highest prevalence rates - maternal deaths per 100,000 - are Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Malawi, Cameroon, Lesotho, Tanzania, Zambia, Gambia, Bangladesh and Kenya (Source: ‘Maternal mortality in 2005’)
Financial and human resources:
While effective interventions are known to address immunization, reduce maternal mortality, or reduce the risk of HIV infection, many health systems lack the financial and human resources required for sustained delivery or high quality services, particularly in poor communities.
Growing HIV prevalence:
HIV prevalence among women continues to grow and the stigma surrounding AIDS limits the implementation of effective interventions.
Lifestyles and diets:
Lifestyle and dietary changes have led to both countries in the Caribbean and Pacific - which have seen a reduction in communicable diseases - and countries in Asia - in which a high burden of communicable diseases continues - see a rapidly increasing morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes, hypertension and cancer. These changes are a result of: an increase in available transport and more sedentary lifestyle with less physical activity; an increase of tinned or fatty foods with less fresh produce; and an increase in the accessibility of cigarettes resulting in more smoking-related diseases.
Demand for health workers:
Globally, a changing epidemiological and demographic profile has increased the demand for health workers. This has been a key factor in causing health worker shortages, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, as they migrate to seek opportunities abroad.
Through high-level policy advocacy initiatives where the Secretariat informs national, regional and global policy development and promotes debate on relevant issues.
We help improve the body of knowledge on emerging health issues and in the Secretariat’s priority areas through analytical studies. The Secretariat uses the analytical products it develops to stimulate discussion within and between the Commonwealth countries. Particular focus is paid to distributing information, to meet the needs of specific partners. This also provides an opportunity for the Secretariat to gather country information that can be brought to the regional and global levels.