22 April 2010
Annual meeting in Geneva will focus on progress, challenges and opportunities of the Millennium Development Goals
Health Ministers from the 54-nation Commonwealth will meet in Geneva on 16 May 2010 to examine progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to discuss the challenges and opportunities that countries will face in the next five years to achieve targets.
The theme of the meeting, which takes place on the eve of the 63rd World Health Assembly, is ‘The Commonwealth and the Health MDGs by 2015’.
The meeting, to be attended by Health Ministers, civil society organisations and other partners, will identify issues of concern to Commonwealth countries ahead of the September 2010 UN High-Level Summit on the MDGs. It will also explore the possibilities and modalities for influencing preparations for the Summit.
Professor Hans Rosling, an expert on International Health at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden will address the Geneva meeting. His research has focused on links between economic development, agriculture, poverty and health in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Professor Rosling has been health adviser to the WHO, UNICEF and several aid agencies.
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health OrganizationA, will also speak at the meeting and exchange views with Ministers.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: “Many Commonwealth countries are not on target to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in health, particularly Goals 4 and 5, covering child mortality and maternal health. It is crucial that we use this meeting to explore ways to close the gaps, particularly in the current economic climate.
“Thirty thousand children under five die each day, mostly from preventable causes, and almost half of these deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Each year, more than half a million women die during pregnancy and childbirth, and at least 10 million suffer injuries, infections and disabilities. These terrible figures are a global reproach.”
Mr Sharma also said that he welcomes the opportunity for Health Ministers to discuss the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases, an issue which was highlighted when Commonwealth Heads of Government met in Port of Spain in November last year.
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