The Fourth and Final Day of the WHO Western Pacific Regional Committee Meeting

The fourth day started with the continuation of the progress reports on technical programmes, particularly on infectious diseases. Specifically, the committee discussed the programmes on HIV/STI prevention and treatment, tuberculosis prevention and control, the expanded programme on immunization, malaria and artemisinin resistance, the Asia-Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (2010), and the International Health Regulations (2005).

During this last day, the large majority of Member States also took the opportunity to deliver interventions on a variety of topics. For HIV/STI prevention and treatment, particular importance was placed on increasing accessibility to antiretroviral therapy and strengthening surveillance for STIs. With regards to tuberculosis prevention and control, the region reaffirmed its goal of reducing the morbidity and mortality caused by TB. Member States also expressed concern on multidrug-resistant, as well as extensively drug-resistant, TB. Aside from Hepatitis B, which was discussed on Day 3, immunization coverage was emphasized by the Regional Committee, in the context of universal health care.

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During lunch time, in the midst of the hot weather, the IFMSA delegation decided to take a walk around Rizal Park. There, they appreciated the historical buildings and monuments of the Philippines, and witnessed the site where the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, was executed. They returned to the WPRO office for a complimentary lunch in the main cafeteria hosted by the conference organisers.

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The afternoon session was surprisingly quicker than expected. Coordination of the work of the World Health Assembly, the Executive Board and the Regional Committee was discussed. Many interventions by Member States focused on the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan, where the burden of disease due to mental illness was recognized. In particular, postgraduate training of physicians on mental health was emphasized. Other topics that were discussed under this agenda included: the WHO reform on financing; substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit medical products; disability; and neglected tropical diseases.

Afterwards, the regional committee elected Brunei Darussalam to replace Malaysia on the Policy and Coordination Committee of the Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction. The Regional Director announced the date and venue of the next Regional Committee Meeting – a result of informal consultations with Member States the day before. It was decided that RCM65 will be held between the 13th and the 17th of October 2014, tentatively at Cebu City, Philippines. He also hinted that RCM66 might be held in Guam.

The Regional Director, Dr Shin Young Soo, and the Honourable Chairperson, Dr Leao Talalelei Tuitama, gave their respective closing remarks. They thanked the regional committee for an efficient meeting, which resulted in the closure of the meeting a day earlier than planned. A video prepared by the WHO WPRO Secretariat was shown to the delegates before the Chairperson announced the closure of the session.

To celebrate the end of the WPRO Regional Session, the entire IFMSA delegation enjoyed a traditional Filipino dinner at Zamboanga Restaurant, hosted by Dr Renzo Guinto, the immediate past IFMSA Liaison Officer to WHO. The delegates watched cultural performances put on by the restaurant, and Marcel and Belle even had the courage to go up on stage and try dancing “tinikling”, a Filipino traditional dance. For her talent, Belle was awarded a pineapple, which the whole delegation ate for dessert. Indeed, it was a good cultural experience for the delegates, and a great way to end a spectacular week.

By Jim Paulo Sarsagat (AMSA-Philippines)

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