First meeting of Regional Parliamentary Forum for Health and Well-Being in Eastern Mediterranean Region kicks off
24/06/2019 17:59, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP)- The first meeting of the Regional Parliamentary Forum for Health and Well-Being in Eastern Mediterranean Region kicked off on Monday.

The forum will be chaired during the two-year constitutive period by Chairperson of the Health and Social Affairs Committee at the House of People's Representatives (HPR) Souheil Alouini.

It is holding its first three-day meeting as of this Monday at the headquarters of the Parliamentary Academy in Bardo to reach consensus on follow-up measures and initiatives to strengthen the role of MPs in advocating for regional strategic priorities in the field of universal health.

It also aims to support future initiatives aimed at strengthening cooperation between this new body and the regional office of the World Health Organisation that has supported the creation of this forum at the technical and logistical level.

The first meeting of the Forum is attended by 60 participants from 22 countries representing various sectors and specialities, including regional parliamentarians, representatives of international parliamentary bodies including the International Federation of Parliamentarians and the Arab Parliament, as well as regional and international experts, representatives of partner organisations, Member States of the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office and WHO offices for Europe and the South Pacific.

Souheil Alouini stressed in an address on behalf of HPR Speaker Mohamed Naceur that the forum aims to strengthen the skills of MPs in the area of global health coverage and to facilitate the exchange of experiences to promote health regionally and globally.

The implementation of global health systems can only be achieved gradually, he added, noting that the authorities concerned, including parliamentarians in the first instance, must work towards the establishment of global health coverage.

Interim Minister of Health Sonia Ben Sheikh voiced conviction that the forum will help to develop the role of parliamentarians in promoting the health sector, stressing that global health coverage is a strategic priority for most countries in the region.

On this occasion, she reviewed the State's efforts to establish a comprehensive, coherent and integrated health system to promote and bring health services closer together, stressing that the State provides comprehensive coverage to about 95% of its citizens.

For his part, WHO Regional Director for Eastern Mediterranean, Ahmed Mandhari, stressed that WHO's support for the launch of this forum and the involvement of parliamentarians in the development of general policies in the field of health are part of WHO's 13th General Programme of Work for the period 2019-2023 under the theme "Health for All, by All".

He stressed that this forum aims to involve all sectors (government, legislative, private and public) in order to consolidate the sustainable development objectives at the level of Goal 13, which aims to achieve three Millennium Development Goals: providing comprehensive health coverage for one billion people, raising the level of health for all to another billion people and ensuring access to emergency health services for the third billion people.

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