WHO Meet Adopts ‘Colombo Declaration’

The ‘Colombo Declaration’ was adopted at the Sixty-ninth WHO Regional Committee Meeting, which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe (in Colombo) in the presence of Margaret Chan, Director-General WHO, and Health ministers and senior Health ministry officials of the 11 member countries of the Region.

South-East Asian countries adopted the ‘Colombo declaration’ to manage the growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases that kill 8.5 million people annually.

The declaration calls for strengthening delivery of services for these diseases at the primary Healthcare level.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are already taking an unacceptable toll on populations, with the burden projected to rise in coming years.

To avert this possibility, services for these diseases must be made available at the primary Healthcare level, and high-risk populations must be provided all opportunities to access screening and treatment.

The members expressed serious concern at the unacceptable burden of such diseases, including cardiovascular ailments, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.

As part of the declaration Health ministers pledged to undertake targeted screening for early diagnosis, as well as to increase Health guidance and counselling to promote healthy choices and self-care.

Ensuring appropriate treatment, robust follow-up, management of referrals and focusing on and expanding NCD services to the high-risk population are key parts of the declaration.

This is an important opportunity to reaffirm commitment to the global goal of reducing NCD-related premature mortality by one-third by 2030.

Implementing effective policy solutions is vital to addressing the personal and social tragedy caused by NCDs, as well as their impact on economic development.

To fund the primary Healthcare approach for addressing NCDs, Health ministers committed themselves to advocating for innovative financing methods, including dedicated taxation of Health damaging commodities such as tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods and beverages.

This will both reduce exposure to NCD risk factors as well as mobilize more resources for NCD prevention and control.