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Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting 2018

Theme: 'Enhancing the global fight against NCDs: raising awareness, mobilising resources and ensuring accessibility to universal health coverage’

The Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) will provide member countries with an opportunity to share their experiences and lessons, as well as build consensus around collective action to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Commonwealth, such as cervical cancer. It will also focus on addressing effective funding models for universal healthcare (UHC), including domestic resource mobilisation, effective aid utilisation and pooled procurement; in addition to a coordinated response to gender-based violence. The meeting will feed into the 71st World Health Assembly, which takes place from 21 – 26 May.

The Chair of the meeting is Rosy Akbar, Fiji's Minister of Health and Medical Services.

The Commonwealth is committed to actively pursuing the attainment of health-related UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. These reflect and affirm the Commonwealth Charter values and principles of promoting access to affordable health and removing wide disparities and unequal living standards as guided by internationally-agreed development goals. This includes accelerating universal health coverage (UHC), strengthening health systems and addressing communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), as a means of securing a more sustainable future for Commonwealth citizens.

The importance of ensuring that UHC and NCDs are at the forefront of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda has been emphasised by Commonwealth Health Ministers in their collective contribution to shaping the global consensus on the post-2015 development framework. Since 2014, Health Ministers, in their successive annual meetings, have focused on various aspects of UHC, including ageing and good health in 2015, health security in 2016, sustainable financing and global security in 2017. This year’s Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting will also focus on resource mobilisation and ensuring accessibility to UHC in relation to the global fight against NCDs.

The increasing global burden of NCDs, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases and mental health now account for 63 percent of deaths globally, with 80 percent of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. In the Caribbean, three out of every four that die do so as a result of an NCD; while 77% of all deaths are from an NCD and 40% of NCD deaths are premature (30-69 years). In the Pacific region, NCDs account for 70 percent of all deaths. Pacific island countries are among the top ten countries with the highest rates of diabetes in the world and the top ten countries with the highest prevalence of obesity (a major risk factor for NCDs) are all Pacific countries. This is why the contribution of Commonwealth countries in collectively addressing the global fight against NCDs is so important.

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