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CS Nakhumicha adressses at the Commonwealth Health Ministers meeting

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Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha S. Wafula made an adress at the 36th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) reaffirming Kenya’s commitment to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and ensuring the most vulnerable and marginalised have equal access to health services across the 56 member countries by 2030.

Speaking in her capacity as CHMM chairperson,the CS emphasised continued need to foster global and regional partnerships in line with this year’s meeting theme dubbed “Actionable Solutions to Building Resilience in Healthcare Systems within the Commonwealth, with an Emphasis on Small and Vulnerable States”.

She called upon member countries to work together to accelerate efforts to achieve UHC by 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused setbacks to hard-won UHC gains and exposed rife health inequalities within and between countries, including inequities of access to quality care.

“At the center of these priorities was Universal Health Coverage, which aligned well with our last year theme, on “Getting Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the Commonwealth on Track by 2030. It is still my desire that we develop a customized Commonwealth tracker of UHC that is premised on the existing M&E frameworks.Together, we have participated in shaping the governance structure including the implementation of the revised Terms of Reference of the Commonwealth Advisory committee for Health. ” read part of her speech

Highlighting the increasing daily threats of climate change which continue to have an impact on the health of countries, their communities and their loved ones, the CS rallied for collaborative action from all across health, finance, environment and climate ministries. 

“The effects of climate change on health are enormous including amplification of determinants of health such as access to clean air, safe drinking water, access to sufficient food and secure shelter. We must therefore collectively deliberate and resolve to invest in resilient Health systems and Strengthen the capacity and capabilities of the healthcare workforce, that is also a key agenda in today’s meeting” she noted.

Kenya is championing efforts for mitigation of climate change as exemplified by President William Ruto’s commitment in urging the international community to form a huge coalition for collective action over the escalating adverse impacts of global greenhouse gas emissions which pose significant threats to humanity despite increased awareness.

Health research shows that transitioning to renewable energy and reducing emissions will save millions of lives annually and prevent a myriad of health issues. Adaptation to unavoidable climate change impacts is also essential, requiring investments in resilient infrastructure and innovative solutions.

Besides,the meeting deliberated on investment in primary health care, utilising digital health technologies, integrating mental health services and building greater country capacity for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – to help work towards a more equitable and healthier Commonwealth where no one is left behind.

This,the CS affirmed was in compliance with Kenya’s efforts to monitor progress and share expertise on strengthening primary healthcare (PHC) services and leverage increased investment for digital innovations to improve population health thus deliver UHC which has remained a piped dream in previous dispensations.

The Commonwealth has long advocated for the realisation of UHC – with efforts being made to ensure equitable access to medicines, sustainable financing, global health security, healthy ageing, and a reduction in noncommunicable diseases, in successive meetings.

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