Countries in WHO South-East Asia Region endorse health promoting schools, safe school operations during pandemic


Kathmandu, 13 September 2021 – The Member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region resolved to work towards making ‘every school a health promoting school’, while also committing to safe school operations during the pandemic.

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“Schools have an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles, life-long healthy behaviors and to nurture human capital for sustainable development of any society. We need a whole-of-government approach to ensure children from all socio-economic background, including those with special needs, benefit from healthy schools,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region at the Regional Committee meeting.

Adopting a resolution at the Regional Committee meeting to revitalize school health and health promoting schools, Member countries expressed concern over school closure during the ongoing pandemic, its impact on learning, growth and health of young children and adolescents.  

Member countries also deliberated on the need to ensure safe reopening and operationalization of schools during the ongoing pandemic.  

At the five-day meeting 6 – 10 September, the Member countries agreed to develop an integrated Regional Action Plan on viral hepatitis, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, aligned with WHO’s global and 2030 SDGs targets.

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Other highlights of the Regional Committee meeting included a declaration signed by Member countries, at a ministerial round table, to take lessons from the pandemic and strengthen health system resilience to ensure health security and achieve universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goals for health.

Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee addressed the ministerial round table, emphasizing on the need to ensure quality of health care services.

WHO and Member countries of South-East Asia Region discussed further strengthening of health emergency security systems to be better prepared for future health emergencies.

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The meeting also discussed enhancing routine immunization coverage along with continuing efforts to rapidly increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage.

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Accelerating efforts to prevent and control the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, action being taken for measles and rubella elimination and progress on universal health coverage, were some of the other Regional flagship priorities deliberated upon at the meeting.

The annual governing body meeting, hosted by Nepal this year, was held virtually for the second consecutive year due to the pandemic.

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