WHO SEAR nations commit to make essential medicines, diagnostics accessible to all

NEW DELHI: Countries in WHO’s South-East Asia Region, including India, today committed to make essential medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and medical devices “affordable and accessible to all” within the region and beyond.

Health ministers and officials of the 11-member countries taking part in the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee in New Delhi signed the ‘Delhi Declaration’ aimed at improving access to essential medical products.

“Access to safe, effective and affordable medical products vital to prevent sufferings and impoverishment resulting from high out-of-pocket expenses on healthcare  by families, especially the poor,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

Medical products are a major component of out-of-pocket healthcare spending, which has pushed 65 million people into poverty in the South-East Asia region, the global health body said in a statement.

It pointed out that though significant efforts have been made by countries in recent years, challenges remain in providing the right medical products at the right time to those in need.

“To overcome challenges, the Delhi Declaration calls for allocation of sufficient financial resources by countries, as part of overall health financing strategies, to reduce out-of-pocket payments of families on essential medicines. (AGENCIES)