Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday emphasised the importance of predictable financing for health security initiatives in developing countries and LDCs as the World Health Organization (WHO) had been caught wrongfooted in many cases due to the enormity of crises, dearth of resources and its capacity.
"Often WHO had been caught wrongfooted due to the enormity of crises, dearth of resources and its capacity. So, predictable financing for health security initiatives in developing countries and LDCs is an urgent need," she said.
The Prime Minister said this while speaking at the health security roundtable titled ‘Health in Crisis – WHO Cares’ hosted by Munich Security Conference (MSC), Centre for Strategies and International Studies, and WHO at Hotel Bayerischer Hof here.
"Ensuring global public health security is also a global responsibility. As a global organisation, WHO needs to maintain the lead to engage the nations on board," Sheikh Hasina added.
She said the emergence of contagious diseases like Ebola, Cholera and Tuberculosis globally reveal that the existing health system needs to be upgraded and transformed.
Hasina said global health is multidimensional spreading over boundaries and requires sustained high-level commitment and closer international cooperation.
"We need to work collectively. Advanced technology and innovation have provided us with opportunities to work on health security, particularly for the vulnerable sections of our society," she said adding that there are formidable challenges in ensuring health for all.
Hasina said health service is one of the basic needs of human being and thus requires the highest priority.
"Despite technological advancement in health sector, people still suffer from diseases. It’s unfortunate that we’re failing to ensure appropriate healthcare for our people while right to health is the fundamental premise as described in SDG-3," she said.
About Bangladesh, she said the government is pursuing consistent policies and providing financial support for the development of health security in the country.
"We saw remarkable improvements in health sector alongside our socioeconomic development. Our efforts have made us a role model of 'good health at low cost'."
Hasina mentioned that the government has reduced maternal mortality to 172 per 100,000 births, infant mortality to 24 per 1000 births and under-5 mortality to 31 per 1000 births.
The Prime Minister said full vaccination coverage is now 82.3 percent, life expectancy is more than 72.8 years while fertility rate per woman has dropped to 2.1. "The success in the use of information and communication technology for health services in Bangladesh is also recognised widely,” she said.
Hasina said Bangladesh has also made commendable success in elimination of tuberculosis and leprosy. "Bangladesh in its development planning has prioritised a focus on making public health services available and accessible to all its citizens for the last three decades through Health for All (HFA), Primary Health Care (PHC), Essential Service Package (ESP)."
She mentioned that the government has established more than 18,500 Community Clinics and Union Health and Family Welfare Centres at rural and community levels through which it provides 30 types of medicine free. "We’re also expanding the medicine and health coverage through establishing new medical colleges across the country, at least one medical college in every district."
She said the government has already integrated the health-related SDG targets into its development plans. The ‘Vision 2021’ and ‘Vision 2041’ have given top priority to ensure health security in Bangladesh.
"As per our election manifesto 2018, we are planning to expand the universal health coverage manifold and make health service free for child under one year and for elders over 65 years."
The Prime Minister deeply appreciated and recognised WHO for being with Bangladesh in its difficult journey, especially in achieving the MDGs, reducing child and maternal mortality as well as for the support in various vaccination programmes and combating HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other water borne diseases over the periods.
She commended the WHO activities in emergency areas like for displaced Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh and for managing emergency situations in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya.
Hasina underlined the effective, result-oriented international coordination and cooperation for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal-3 and other health-related Goals.
"And WHO, as our principal humanitarian organization rightfully deserves high-level political support from, and engagement with, Member States and non-State actors to guarantee health and happiness for all," she said.