Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the world community to develop global and regional partnership in health technology to ensure greater access to medicine at affordable prices.
“Making health services accessible and affordable is a global challenge… our needs and challenges require matching mobilization of resources beyond public sources,” she said in a keynote address at the opening session of the 4-day World Health Summit, 2011 that began here on Sunday at the Charite – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Mitte.
The WHS is the annual conference of the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centers and Medical Universities together with the National Academies. Dirk Niebel, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany; Detlev Ganten, Co-President World Health Summit; and President-designate WHS 2011 Prof. Dr. Steve Wesselingh of Monash University, Melbourne also spoke at the opening session.
Mentioning that the Summit’s theme, ‘Today’s Science – Tomorrow’s Agenda’, as timely, Hasina said there is immense scope to develop collaboration among pharmaceutical companies to enhance quality and scale up production and distribution of drugs.
She stressed the need for extending the flexibilities accorded to the LDCs within the existing Intellectual Property Regime on pharmaceuticals beyond 2015.
The Prime Minister called for enhancing regulatory capacity to combat medical products of inferior quality, safety and efficacy. About the importance of preventive medicines, she said that as the world concentrate on cutting-age technology and high-end health products, simple and cost-effective interventions like immunization must not be forgotten as they can help reduce morbidity and disease burden.
“We can prevent millions of death by making vaccines affordable. Technological breakthrough thus needs to be employed to produce new generation of vaccines.”
About the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), Hasina said NCDs cause more mortality and morbidity these days and require greater attention.
She said that unsustainable exploitation of natural endowments, unchecked industrial growth and concomitant pollution, and unplanned urbanization all played their roles in the growth of heart and lung diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and cancers.
Accident is another major cause of disability and death which together inflict great cost on society and economy, she added. The Prime Minister deplored that NCD prevention and control have remained a low priority for national and international engagements.
She suggested a greater balance in the global focus between communicable and non-communicable diseases. “We can no longer ignore increasing genetic disorders like thalassemia. Services and facilities on NCDs both in the public and the private sectors in the developing world are inadequate,” Hasina told the summit.
She called for forging global and regional partnership in health technology and research, capacity building of health personnel, health policy and health infrastructure.
The Prime Minister suggested that universities and hospitals should develop networks and partnerships to reduce the knowledge and resource gap to amplify the benefits of the costly health facilities and bring health services at the doorsteps of the poor.
“Such networks can be easily established in this era of tele-connectivity. This is how we can develop effective partnering to uphold the spirit of ‘one community’ in a globalized world.”
She said Bangladesh, like many countries in the developing world, is beset with diverse problems including poor health infrastructure, inadequate health resources, and poor technology.
“External factors as well as natural disasters and climate change compound our challenges. We are, however, determined to keep health our top priority and continue to allocate increasing funds despite conflicting demands and limited resources.”
Hasina said Bangladesh has been an active participant worldwide on health related issues.
“Our commitment to global public health is reinforced by the challenges we face at the national level, and our belief: `Health is Wealth’ and ‘Health for All’ is essential for transforming people into human assets.”
She said health has always been one of her government’s prime concerns, particularly the health of women and children, who are often subject to neglect and sufferings.
The Prime Minister said food and nutritional security for people is the present government’s topmost priority. Food safety is no less important given its immediate effects on health.
Hasina said her government has also withdrawn taxes on medical equipment, which has helped to develop quality diagnostic facilities. This has also enhanced access to specialized and tertiary care.
The Prime Minister told the summit that she received the South-South ICT Award on health of women and children for her government’s efforts and successes in the use of information and communications technology for health.
She said the government has been able to secure good progress in reducing maternal mortality rate that fell by two-thirds to 194 per 100,000 live births in 2010.
Top-level researchers and members of the scientific community, high-profile political decision-makers and society opinion leaders and representatives from the healthcare system and health-related industry and technology sector are participating in the summit.