Chair of the 35th CHMM Calls for Collective Action to Achieve Universal Health Coverage
Geneva, Switzerland - May 20, 2023 - Today marked the commencement of the highly anticipated 35th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) at the Hilton Hotel. Hon Nakhumicha S. Wafula, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary of Health, assumed the role of the new Chair, setting the stage for productive deliberations. The meeting revolves around the theme "Getting Universal Health Coverage in the Commonwealth on Track for 2030."
In her compelling opening remarks, Chairperson Nakhumicha S. Wafula underscored the critical need for collective action to address the multifaceted challenges hindering the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Central to this endeavor is the imperative to strengthen Primary Health Care (PHC) systems, serving as the backbone for translating UHC aspirations into tangible realities.
Chairperson Nakhumicha emphasized the pivotal role of resilient health systems in swiftly identifying and responding to emerging health threats. The transformation of PHC systems from fragmented services into comprehensive frameworks encompassing health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliation is essential for ensuring holistic well-being.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing global crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chairperson seized the opportune moment to harness the transformative potential it presents. With the high-level UN declaration in 2023 as a catalyst, the discussions at the CHMM will revolve around three crucial health agendas: UHC, Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response, and Tuberculosis.
The chosen theme of the meeting holds immense significance as it aims to revitalize UHC within the Commonwealth. It provides an ideal platform to review the progress of member countries, exchange insights on challenges, and identify priorities crucial for advancing UHC. Strengthening health systems to make them resilient and better equipped to achieve UHC goals and bolster health security takes precedence.
Chairperson Nakhumicha urged all participants to seize this momentous occasion and engage in collective thinking and action, leveraging the transformative potential of the COVID-19 pandemic. She expressed unwavering optimism regarding collaboration and cooperation among Commonwealth nations in realizing the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
The CHMM presents a remarkable opportunity to assess the Commonwealth's progress on UHC and address country-specific challenges and priorities. Key discussions focused on strengthening primary health care, digital health, mental health, and pandemic preparedness. Notably, the meeting aligns with the forthcoming UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in September 2023, where the Commonwealth will outline its recommendations and solutions for achieving UHC by 2030.