Commonwealth Advisory Committee proposes range of health priorities for crucial Health Ministers Meeting

05 April 2024
Family photo of delegates at CACH in London

The Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH) has proposed a range of priority areas for health ministers to consider at the 36th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in May this year, which will be held in the margins of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

At a three-day meeting held from March 19-21 at the Commonwealth Headquarters in London, the committee identified several priorities, including investing in robust education and training, creating ethical procedures for international migration of health workers, and facilitating effective employment practices to ensure that hospitals and other health facilities are well-resourced.

Emerging health challenges

Members also highlighted the importance of sharing successful health innovations among Commonwealth countries, dealing with emerging challenges such as the impact of climate change on health, and progressing commitments to tackle malaria, trachoma, and cervical cancer.

CACH is a select committee of senior officials, regional bodies, and civil society representatives from across the Commonwealth’s 56 member states that provides advice on promoting health and well-being for Commonwealth citizens in line with the values set out in the Commonwealth Charter.

The meeting was open to all other member countries and Commonwealth High Commissioners for the first time.

Delegates meeting for CACH at Marlborough House
The Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH) proposed a range of health priorities for ministers to consider at the upcoming 36th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting.

Chaired by the Government of Brunei Darussalam, members and observers explored other critical issues to be discussed at 36CHMM, including the 2023 United Nations High-Level health-related political declarations focused on Universal Health Coverage, Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, and Tuberculosis. Central to their discussions was offering support to countries, particularly those that are small and vulnerable, to be ready to respond to and manage unexpected shocks and stressors, such as pandemics.

Preparations for 36CHMM

The Commonwealth Assistant Secretary General, Prof Luis Franceschi, described the committee meeting as critical for the success of 36CHMM. He noted that CACH had offered invaluable insight into the challenges facing countries and provided essential guidance on agenda priorities for ministers to consider.

Welcoming members to Marlborough House on behalf of the Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, Prof Franceschi said:

“Whilst every country has its own priorities, challenges, and processes, our Commonwealth platform offers the opportunity for us to work together on improving health and healthcare for all. CACH is a key forum for this.”

Commenting on the meeting, the Director General of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Brunei Darussalam Dr Haji Md Khalifah bin Pg Haji Ismail, said:

“The Government of Brunei Darussalam has been pleased to serve as the CACH Chair for 2023-2024. We thank all CACH members for their time and valuable contributions to the meeting, which have enabled us to prepare effectively for the upcoming CHMM and CHOGM, as well as the 2024-2025 Health Programme of Work.”

As the meeting progressed, countries and intergovernmental organisations reiterated the need for continued support and collaboration with the Commonwealth to address shared health challenges and the implementation of the 2023 UN declarations. They also underscored the value of CACH in guiding the Secretariat to work effectively with countries to build resilient health systems.

The CACH’s updates and recommendations will be reported to health ministers ahead of their meeting in May 2024.

Learn more about the 36th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting

Media contact

  • Ijeoma Onyeator  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

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