October 28, 2019

ISPRM at the 70th Session of the World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Meeting in Manila, 7-11 October, 2019

By Dr. Filipinas Ganchoon

10 October 2019

WHO held the Seventieth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific at the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila, Philippines last 7 October 2019 until 11 October 2019. ISPRM DRC Vice Chair Dr. Filipinas Ganchoon represented ISPRM in the said meeting.

The issues discussed were the following: Protecting Children from the harmful impact of food marketing and address child obesity, Health for Poverty Reduction, Ageing and Health, Tobacco control and how to address the harmful impact electronic nicotine delivery systems,  Antimicrobial resistance, Coordination of WHO work in regions and countries, Innovation through Digital Health, Health Security, Disaster Risk Management for Health,  Communicable Diseases (Measles and Rubella Elimination, Polio, HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STDs, End TB Strategy), Non Communicable Diseases and Mental Health, Action Plan for Healthy Newborn Infants ,  Safe and affordable surgery,  Climate change, Environment and Health and WHO Reform.

The topics that are relevant to physical and rehabilitation medicine are the following:

  1. Protecting Children from the harmful impact of food marketing.

Children hold our future. Ensuring their healthy growth and development should be a prime concern of all societies. Parents from the Western Pacific for Region are concerned about the difficulty to make good judgment about food. They are constantly bombarded with so many advertisements for snacks claiming to have health benefits. This resulted to increase in childhood obesity. The parents are asking for government support to regulate advertising to include salt, sugar, fat and chemical content of food. They also want to advocate for healthy and safe schools where knowledge of good nutrition, WASH (water, sanitation & hygiene) and exercise will be included.

  1. Ageing and Health

The world’s population aged 60 years and older will be expected to be 2 Billion by 2050. From 2015 to  2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 6 years of age will double from 12% to 22%. By 2050, 80% of all older people will be living in low and middle income countries.  By 2020, the number of people aged 60 years old and above will outnumber children younger than 5 years old. The pace of population ageing is much faster than in the past. All countries face major challenges to ensure that their health and social systems are ready to make the most of the demographic shift.

The common conditions in the elderly population include hearing loss, cataracts and refractive errors, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, diabetes, depression and dementia. Ageing is also associated with geriatric syndromes as a consequence of multiple underlying factors such as frailty, urinary incontinence, falls, delirium and pressure sores.

WHO came up with a global strategy and action plan for ageing and health that focuses on the following areas: a. Commitment to healthy ageing that will promote healthy ageing and formulate evidence based policies that will strengthen the abilities of older persons;  b. Aligning health systems with the needs of older people. Health systems needed to be better organized around the older people’s needs and preferences. Actions in this area are closely aligned with strengthening universal health care and people centered and integrated health services; c. Developing services for providing long term care. WHO’s work focuses on long term care will optimize the ageing populations functional capacity through preventive, rehabilitative and palliative care. This goal will be achieved by enhancing health care coverage, addressing non communicable diseases and developing people centered and integrated health services.

  1. Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management for Health

Climate change is expected to cause 250,000 additional deaths yearly from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, heat stress and disabilities resulting from disaster injuries.

The direct damage cost to health (excluding costs in agriculture, water and sanitation) is estimated to be $ 2-4 B/year by 2030. The primary objective of the disaster response is to save lives and minimize disability.  Developing countries,  with  areas  of weak infrastructure , will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

  1. Non Communicable Diseases and Mental Health

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) define disability as an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. Disability is the interaction between the individuals with a health condition and personal and environmental factors.

Over one billion people about 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability. Between 110 – 190 M people age 15 years old and older have significant difficulties in functioning. The rate of disability is increasing due to ageing and increase in chronic health conditions. People with disabilities have less access to health care services and experience unmet health care needs. The barriers to health care were prohibitive costs, limited availability of preventive and rehabilitative services, physical barriers, inadequate skills and knowledge of health workers.

The 71st World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Meeting will be held on October 5 – 9, 2020 in Kobe, Japan.

Reference:  WHO