The Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) 2016 – Geneva

The Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) 2016 – Geneva

Sunday 22nd May, Geneva.

CHMM is always scheduled to take place on the eve of the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva. This year the theme was Health Security and Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The Commonwealth Pharmacists Association (CPA) have observer status at this meeting and this year the current president, Raymond Anderson and new executive director, Victoria Rutter attended.

The Civil Society Forum is always held on the day before the Health Ministers meeting, and carries the same theme. This gives a chance for the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) like CPA to discuss the topics pertinent to them. A statement (or in this case the summary of a research paper), is then presented by a nominated individual at the Commonwealth Health Ministers meeting the following day.

This year, the topics covered at the Civil Society Forum included:

  • Universal Health Coverage: a prerequisite for health security and universal health coverage
  • Launch of the commissioned research paper ‘A review of Commonwealth mixed funding models’
    • This is a fascinating topic and the full report will be available soon.
    • It is particularly relevant when reflecting on the NHS and the alternative health systems out there and how these translate into outcomes.
    • The results.
  • Free trade agreements and their threat to health security
  • Non-communicable diseases: positive action on a global threat to health security
  • Polio eradication campaign led by Rotary International
  • Mitigating threats to health security from natural and man-made disasters

Highlights from the Commonwealth Health Ministers meeting included:

    • Welcome by Baroness Scotland, the new secretary general of the Commonwealth, and the first woman to hold this post.
      • Baroness Scotland began by reiterating the common values shared by the Commonwealth family and the need to continue to work together in order to improve health for the populations we serve.
    • Key note speech by Dr Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO
      • UHC is goal no 3 under goal no 3 of the Millennium Development Goals. It is very important and must be a target that brings all other priorities together.
      • UHC is very important in terms of health security – we need strong health systems to prevent, detect and respond to health security threats.
      • This meeting saw the launch of the Health Protection Policy Tool Kit to help strengthen health systems and identify gaps that need to be addressed in order to prepare for emergencies.
      • Areas of focus for public health should be: infection control, expanding and speeding up capacity of labs, developing health information systems with real time reporting of data in a crisis allowing for an early warning system.
      • We have missed 3 wake up calls (SARS/H1N1/Ebola, we cannot afford to miss the next.
    • Summary of interesting/relevant responses by member nations:
      • Maldives, stating that they had established 286 pharmacies last year.
      • UK, commenting on the need to raise the issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) higher up the agenda, referring to the recent report released, where it was predicted that by 2050, more people will be dying worldwide of infections than cancer.
      • Malawi, rural communities always short changed – it’s not just about health, for these people the infrastructure needs to be able to support health care professionals living and working in these areas.
    • Reports given my member nations:
      • Zika – Bardados
      • Climate Change – Fiji. Health cannot be considered in isolation and we need to consider the effect of this on vector borne diseases.
      • International Health Regulations – Tanzania
    • Presentation by Civil Society representative summarising the commissioned research paper ‘A review of Commonwealth mixed funding models’
    • Creation of a Ministerial Statement to be read at WHA included a commitment to make antimicrobial resistance a global priority at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016.
    • The theme for CHMM in 2017 was suggested to be ‘Sustainable Financing of UHC as an Essential Component for Global Security Including the Reduction of All Forms of Violence’.