WHO South-East Asia Region AGM endorses health-promoting schools

The annual governing body meeting, hosted by Nepal, was held virtually for the second year running due to Covid-19.

Member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region have resolved to work towards making every school a ‘health-promoting school’, while also committing to safe school operations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Schools have an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles, life-long healthy behaviours and to nurture human capital for sustainable development of any society. We need a whole-of-government approach to ensure children from all socio-economic backgrounds, including those with special needs, benefit from healthy schools,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia Region at the five-day regional committee meeting held recently from September 6-10.

The annual governing body meeting, hosted by Nepal, was held virtually for the second year running due to Covid-19.

Adopting a resolution at the regional committee meeting to revitalise school health and health-promoting schools, member countries expressed concern over school closure during the pandemic, its impact on learning, growth and health of young children and adolescents.

Member countries also deliberated on the need to ensure safe reopening and operationalisation of schools, a statement said.

The member countries agreed to develop an integrated regional action plan on viral hepatitis, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, aligned with WHO’s global and sustainable development goals (SDGs) targets for 2030.

Other highlights of the regional committee meeting included a declaration signed by member countries, at a ministerial round table, to take lessons from the pandemic and strengthen health system resilience to ensure health security and achieve universal health coverage and sustainable development goals for health.

Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee addressed the ministerial round table, emphasising the need to ensure quality healthcare services.

WHO and member countries of the South-East Asia Region discussed further strengthening of health emergency security systems to be better prepared for future health emergencies.

The meeting also discussed enhancing routine immunisation coverage along with continuing efforts to rapidly increase Covid-19 vaccination coverage.

Accelerating efforts to prevent and control the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, action being taken for measles and rubella elimination and progress on universal health coverage, were some of the other regional flagship priorities discussed at the meeting.

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