Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien speaks at the WHO's 69th annual General Assembly (Photo: VNA)

Geneva (VNA)
– Vietnamese Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and international partners to help ASEAN member states, including Vietnam, achieve national goals and enhance national capacity for fulfilling the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The minister, as the current Chair of the ASEAN Health Ministers’ Meeting, made the call at the WHO’s 69th annual General Assembly that is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from May 23-28 and has attracted 3,500 delegates representing 194 member states.

In her speech themed “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she informed participants that Vietnam has achieved a majority of health-related UN millennial development goals (MDGs) and is also one of the 10 fast-track nations in achieving MDGs on reducing maternal and child mortality.

However, she said Vietnam has been facing numerous challenges, for example disparities between and within regions and populations, limited capacity in services provision and coverage, especially in mountainous and disadvantaged areas, inadequate human resources for health, and a lack of inter-sectoral collaboration in certain areas. Vietnam is also one of the countries most affected by climate change, which leads to serious impacts on people’s health.

She also shared ASEAN’s post-2015 vision and priorities, saying that the regional health sector has the vision of “A Healthy, Caring and Sustainable ASEAN Community.”

“This vision will be realised through the operationalisation of four major Health Clusters including Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle; Responding to All Hazards and Emerging Threats; Strengthening Health Systems and Access to Care and Ensuring Food Safety. These four Health Clusters are focused on the implementation of 20 health priorities that includes universal health coverage, prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, combating antimicrobial resistance, disaster health management, human resource development on health, active ageing and promotion of good nutrition and a healthy diet,” she said.

WHO Director General Margaret Chan, in her opening remarks, welcomed the current joint external evaluations that are looking at preparedness and response capacities in several countries. The evaluations need to continue with the utmost urgency, as a tool under WHO authority and coordination, she said.

Participants focused their discussion on WHO’s continued reform and health issues within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Among 17 sustainable development goals to 2030 adopted last September, WHO focuses on the goal of ensuring a healthy life and improving well-being for all peoples at all ages, along with strengthening medical equipment and protecting public health globally against epidemic diseases.-VNA