The Colombo Declaration

The Colombo Declaration


Press Release, 17th October 2016

16 October, 2016 – Both the president and the prime minister of Sri Lanka took part in the launch of the Colombo Declaration to ensure better health across the Commonwealth. The new commitment has eight priorities to reduce inequalities and improve health and well-being for all Commonwealth citizens.


At the inauguration of the Commonwealth Medical Association, President Maithripala Sirisena, said:

“I look forward to the Colombo Declaration, which sets an agenda for action in the field of health in the Commonwealth in the years to come. I wish the Commonwealth Medical Association all the success.”

The declaration sets a minimum investment of 6% of GDP on health systems, with spending to be prioritised in the most cost effective approaches towards public health and primary health care. Key areas of focus outlined in the eight-point pledge include training a multidisciplinary health workforce and promoting the development of innovative digital health solutions.  Governments of all Commonwealth member countries are being called upon to uphold and deliver on the agreed ambitions by 2019.

Professor Vajira Dissanayake, who was inaugurated as president of the Commonwealth Medical Association at the opening of the triennial event, commended the collaborative nature of the declaration. The Commonwealth Medical Association, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association, Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Association, Commonwealth Association of Paediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition, Commonwealth Dental Association and Commonwealth Association for Health and Disability have all committed to the declaration.

Professor Dissanayake said: “This is the first time in history that we have had such a declaration, to which so many organisations are signatories and supporting.  This is a unique achievement that we should be proud of. It lives up the theme of the Commonwealth this year, an inclusive Commonwealth. This will shape the global agenda.”

In keeping with the ‘Digital Health’ theme, Professor Dissanyake said the projects were top of his agenda as the new incumbent president of the medical association. Among them is eVarsity, a virtual university which offers online courses sharing best practice from around the globe to promote continuous medical education. Professor Dissanyake also promised to embark on digital health projects across the Commonwealth.


The Colombo Declaration
Commonwealth Medical Association Conference
Sri Lanka, October 2016

We the health professionals of Commonwealth countries gathering at the Commonwealth Medical Association’s 24th Triennial Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 14 to 16 October 2016 cognisance of our obligations under the Commonwealth Charter and commitment to the Values of the Commonwealth as expressed primarily in the Singapore and Harare Declarations, as well as other declarations by the Commonwealth Heads of Government call upon our governments to reduce inequalities and improve health and well-being for all citizens across the Commonwealth as part of achieving the implementation of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) by.

  1. Strengthening health systems for global security: To aim for approaches to reduce inequalities, improving health and wellbeing, and address global security challenges including, but not limited to climate change and environmental hazards, violence, migration, emergencies and disasters, disease outbreaks, anti-microbial resistance, and access to medicines.
  1. Ensuring equity in health for all by addressing the wider determinants of health: To work in collaboration with other sectors to promote social, economic and environmental policies that protect and enable health and well-being; mainstreaming effective policy approaches to reduce inequalities related to age, gender, disability, marginalised groups, socio-economic status and geographical location.
  1. Improving multidisciplinary health workforce capacity and the quality of training across the Commonwealth. To aim for appropriate policies for workforce planning, development and retention according to need; training, accreditation and quality assurance systems for the agreement and implementation of standards; aiming for collaborative approaches towards a Commonwealth health workforce.
  1. Advancing sustainable approaches to prevent and control Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs): To share effective policy approaches across the Commonwealth on reducing the impact of NCDs and prevention of disabilities and injuries, including violence, while continuing to combat Communicable Disease (CDs) and promote better oral health by addressing the wider social determinants of health to promote sustainable well-being.
  1. Promoting development of innovative digital health solutions: To develop ICT tools to address public health challenges and create sustainable health systems that empower health workers and communities.
  1. Promoting partnership through scale up of digital health technologies: To enhance capacity, communication, coordination, sharing and collaboration to strengthen policy responses promoting Universal Health Coverage and to protect populations from communicable disease outbreaks and disasters.
  1. Promoting sustainable investment and financing for health systems: To aim for a minimum investment of 6% of GDP for health, prioritising investment in the most cost effective approaches including public health and primary health care, sustainable, and best practice health systems.
  1. Committing to advancing collaborative action across the Commonwealth: To address key issues affecting health and wellbeing such as climate change, migration, outbreaks of communicable disease and all forms of violence.

Supporting Organisations