Commonwealth Advisory Committee convenes its first in-person meeting since 2019 ahead of Health Ministers Meeting

28 April 2023
CACH group photo

After several years of online meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last week, members of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH) met in person for the first time since 2019 to discuss and advance key areas of health priorities ahead of the 35th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) next month.

CACH is a select committee made up of senior officials, regional bodies, and civil society representatives from across the Commonwealth. CACH provides advice and guidance to Commonwealth Health Ministers and the Commonwealth Secretariat on matters of public health concern including emerging trends and threats to the Commonwealth, as well as guiding on the strategic direction of the Commonwealth Health Programme. Currently, the countries represented on the CACH are Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Dominica, Malawi, Mauritius, Samoa, and Solomon Islands. The Governments of Jamaica and Kenya also sit on the CACH as outgoing and incoming CHMM Chairs.

Chaired by the Government of Canada, the 17 representatives progressed efforts to strengthen the governance of CACH and its support to Commonwealth countries, as well as deliberated on the theme, key agenda items and ministerial statement of the upcoming 35th CHMM, which will be held in Geneva, Switzerland on 20 May, under the theme: “Getting Universal Health Coverage in the Commonwealth on track for 2030”. This included guidance on the role of primary health care, digital health, mental health and pandemic preparedness in achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Representing the Commonwealth Secretariat at the meeting was Joshua Setipa, Senior Director, Strategy, Portfolio, Partnerships and Digital (SPPD) Directorate. He said:

“Our Secretary-General often says that the Commonwealth is a ‘petri dish’, that offers opportunities for innovations in policies, new mechanisms, and methods for strengthening health systems. Whilst every country has its own priorities, its own challenges, and its own processes, our Commonwealth platform provides an opportunity for us to work together on improving health and healthcare for all. And CACH is a key forum for us to do this.”

Josée Roy, CACH Chair, and Director of Multilateral Relations, the Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio, Government of Canada, said:

“The Government of Canada has been pleased to serve as the CACH Chair for 2022-23, and in supporting to strengthen its role and impact. We thank all CACH members for their valuable contributions and deliberations during this meeting, and their continued commitment to improve health outcomes for our Commonwealth family.”

The meeting was held at Marlborough House, London - the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat – from 18 to 20 April. It marks the first time CACH members have met in person since before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.

Representing the Government of Kenya, who will be chairing CHMM, Dr Peace Mutuma, Health Attaché, Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations, said:

“Kenya is pleased to participate in the CACH meetings this year in our capacity as the Chair of the upcoming 35th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting. The CACH meeting has been instrumental in finalising preparations for CHMM, and we thank CACH Members and the Commonwealth Secretariat for their invaluable advisory support to sharpen the focus of the key thematic areas to be discussed by Health Ministers. Kenya therefore looks forward to the CHMM where all Commonwealth countries will come together to identify a path forward in realising universal health coverage goals by 2030.”

The Government of Canada completes its term as CACH Chair in June 2023, following which Brunei Darussalam will take over as Chair for the 2023-2024 period.

Media contact

  • Amy Coles  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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