TB deaths down 30% over decade

TUBERCOLOSIS deaths in the Western Pacific region have declined by almost 30% over the past 10 years and most malaria-endemic countries are closer than ever to elimination.
TB deaths down 30% over decade TB deaths down 30% over decade TB deaths down 30% over decade TB deaths down 30% over decade TB deaths down 30% over decade

Dr Shin Young-soo

Staff Reporter

These were two of the upbeat opening remarks by keynote speaker Dr Shin Young-soo when he addressed the World Health Organisation's 69th Regional Committee for the Western Pacific currently being held in Manila.
Shin is the regional director of WHO for the Western Pacific, who was yesterday replaced by Japan's Dr Takeshi Kasai. Health ministers and other senior officials from 30 countries voted on the new appointment during the committee meetings, which end on Friday this week.
Four member states - Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and the Philippines - had put forward candidates for the position of regional director.
Apart from the nomination, the regional committee will address health issues including fighting neglected tropical diseases;  strengthening rehabilitation services; improving hospital planning and management; harnessing e-health for improved service delivery; and strengthening legal frameworks for health in the sustainable development goals.
In his address, Shin said that the region was still home to four in every 10 people who lost their lives to viral hepatitis.
"Sustained immunisation of children over recent decades has helped us turn the tide on this disease: more than 40 million new hepatitis infections have been prevented, and about seven million lives have been saved. That is a huge achievement," Shin said.
The regional committee meeting is being chaired by Papua New Guinea's Health Minister Sir Puka Temu. "I'm grateful for the confidence of my colleagues in electing me as chair of this important meeting. I very much look forward to our discussions on a range of important and complex issues before us this week," he said.
Shin said that while there had been some substantial health victories over the past decade, there were still some serious current and future health challenges.
"In many ways, the health threats we confront today are more complex than at any other time throughout history. Take climate change, for example. More than two million people die in this region every year as a result of poor air quality. A huge threat to health, the solutions to which lie outside WHO's traditional sphere of influence.
"We face new forms of old threats - such as drug-resistant TB and malaria. Declining donor support also creates challenges for countries in sustaining the prevention, detection and response to infectious disease.
"We must keep stepping up efforts to prevent non-communicable diseases, as well as improve management of these conditions - for those for whom prevention is already too late," Shin said.



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