During the past few weeks, representatives of the World Heart Federation participated in the WHO Regional Meetings for Africa, South-East Asia, Europe and the Americas to advocate for strong policies and measures to prevent cardiovascular disease around the world.
Taking place annually, the Regional Meetings are held to determine regional health policy and to approve programmes of work, with each of meetings guided by a specific agenda.
The prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) topped the agenda at several meetings, following the recent Third UN High-level Meeting on NCDs, which was held in New York City on 27 September. An additional priority for WHF and its Members was to sustain momentum following the adoption of a Global Resolution on Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease at the World Health Assembly in May this year. Other key topics included health systems strengthening and universal health coverage, the upcoming WHO Roadmap for Access to Medicines & Vaccines, health emergencies, and health and the environment.
Regional Meeting for Africa and South-East Asia
President of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Zambia Dr. Fastone Goma represented the World Federation at the Regional Meeting for Africa, held in Dakar, Senegal. Dr. Goma, who is also a member of WHF’s Tobacco Expert Group, delivered statements on several agenda items; among these were a call to increase funding available for NCD services and universal health coverage through increasing taxation on tobacco under Agenda Item 13 – Sustainable Financing for UHC in Africa. In a statement on access to medicines, Dr. Goma also highlighted the importance of a stable and secure supply of benzathine penicillin G for the prevention and treatment of rheumatic fever and RHD.
At the WHO Regional Meeting for South-East Asia (SEARO) in New Delhi, WHF were represented by Dr. Monika Arora of the Public Health Foundation of India and WHF’s Advocacy Expert Group. At a side event on the High-level Meeting on NCDs (HLM) at the SEARO Meeting, Dr. Arora delivered a joint statement on behalf of WHF, the NCD Alliance and the Healthy India in which she called for strong Member State representation at the HLM and actions to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control.
Dr. Arora also delivered joint statements during Member State discussions on the importance of meeting NCD targets under the Sustainable Development Goals, a statement promoting physical activity in South-east Asia, and the need to tackle RHD through maternal and child health interventions.
Regional Meetings for Europe and the Americas
Marleen Kestens of the European Heart Network (EHN) participated in the WHO Regional Meeting for Europe, held in Rome from 17-20 September. She delivered a joint statement between EHN and WHF commending progress achieved in reducing regional mortality from NCDs, but urging further action to reduce adolescent tobacco use and unhealth dietary risk factors. A second WHF statement on child and adolescent health highlighted the continued burden of RHD in certain Member States and among vulnerable populations in the region.
At the Regional Meeting for the Americas (PAHO), WHF supported a joint statement alongside NCD Alliance that was delivered by Eugenia Ramos, Executive Director of the InterAmerican Heart Foundation. The statement called for the inclusion of RHD interventions in PAHO’s Plan of Action for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, due to the potential severe consequences of undiagnosed RHD pregnant women and infants.
Stay tuned for further updates on WHF’s participation in upcoming Regional Meetings: the 69th Western Pacific Regional Meeting (WPRO) will take place in Manila, Philippines from 8-12 October, while the 65th session of the Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) will be held in Khartoum, Sudan from 15-18 October.