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Saturday July 20, 2024

Forum proposed for global health security

Islamabad Charter on Global Health Security 2024 announced at culmination of two-day event also urged states to improve availability

By M Waqar Bhatti
January 12, 2024
Participants take a pose on the stage of the global health security summit on January 11, 2024. — Facebook/Global Health Security Summit - Pakistan
Participants take a pose on the stage of the global health security summit on January 11, 2024. — Facebook/Global Health Security Summit - Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Participants of a global health security summit Thursday called upon states and governments to promote equitable distribution and increased access to quality, safe, effective, affordable and essential medicines, including generics, vaccines, commodities, diagnostics, and health technologies to ensure affordable quality health services and their timely delivery.

At the end of the two-day summit, it was decided to establish a high-level advocacy forum on a voluntary basis to champion the cause of global health security. The forum will meet on an annual basis to review the status, deliberate and future strategic direction for countries, institutions, and organisations.

The Islamabad Charter on Global Health Security 2024 announced at the culmination of two-day event also urged states to improve availability, affordability, and efficiency of health products by increasing transparency of prices of medicines, vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, assistive products, cell and gene-based therapies, and other health technologies across the value chain.

The summit concluded on Thursday with a resounding commitment to a unified, coordinated response to emerging health challenges. It provided a platform for insightful discussions, knowledge exchange, and establishment of collaborative initiatives to strengthen global health security.

The summit presented determination and shared vision among nations, transcending geopolitical boundaries in the pursuit of a common goal. Discussions covered a wide spectrum of topics, from collaborative preparedness to the critical role of resilient health systems. Delegates shared invaluable insights, emphasising the interconnectedness of our shared destiny.

Caretaker Federal Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan congratulated the participating delegates and participants to make the summit a successful event. “Beyond national interests, we are partners for a common goal – to ensure the health of all,” said Dr Jan at the conclusion of the summit. During his remarks, the interim health minister proposed to introduce a Global Health Security Agenda Champion Awards to be bestowed upon the countries/ individuals based on their exemplary contributions to the cause.

He also proposed the inclusion of a dedicated special session on global health security in both the annual UNGA and World Health Assembly agendas. This would provide a regular platform for nations to review progress, share insights, and discuss emerging health challenges on a global scale. A comprehensive five-year global action plan was proposed to guide nations in implementing strategies for enhancing health security.

Federal Health Secretary Iftikhar Ali Shalwani expressed his joy, stating that it was a “dream come true” to witness the collaborative efforts of policy makers, experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from around the world and emphasised the need for continued collaboration, and the implementation of evidence-based strategies to safeguard global health.

Director General of Health Dr Ahmed Kazi expressed gratitude to guests and participants for their active engagement throughout the summit. He also summarised the highlights of the two day proceedings.

On the Pandemic Preparedness & Response, experts emphasised the urgent need to enhance global capacities for prevention, detection, and response. On the climate Change and Emerging Public Health Threats, a One Health System Approach and harmonisation of technological innovations with health systems were recognised as pivotal in addressing climate-induced health threats.

The declaration called for development and strengthening of public health functions under IHR 2005 to build countries’ capacities and early detection of outbreaks through efficient surveillance systems coupled with robust response mechanisms to control disease outbreaks at their source.

It also recommended expansion of coverage of quality, safe, effective, affordable, accessible, and integrated essential health services based on PHC and UHC by improving infrastructure, increasing workforce availability and productivity, and availability of essential medicines, supplies, and health technologies, while considering equitable distribution and efficient resource use.

The charter called for enhancing political ownership at all levels towards national health security by strengthening and integrating information and disease surveillance and response systems, undertaking regular assessments at national and sub-national levels, advancing research and the application of digital health, and conducting periodic external evaluations.

The declaration further called for incorporating evidence-informed policy options for climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, thereby enabling governments to prevent or reduce the health risks associated with climatic change and environmental degradation.

It further suggested enhancing domestic financing for essential health services and public health functions to improve national health security as well as financial assistance by development partners as a catalyst towards financial sustainability, transparency, and responsiveness,