Pakistan has hosted 64th Session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean beginning in Islamabad.

Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar led this event. Delegates and experts from all across the world gathered in Islamabad to take decisions on issues of regional character, including stopping the spread of disease, fighting epidemics, social protection, and other such issues.

WHO’s central body at the regional level, Regional Committee having representatives of 22 countries in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region. WHO’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Mahmoud Fikri and top global health experts were also the part of this high-profile event. Ministers of health and their representatives have discussed public health primacies for the region.

At the event, there were five priority areas of public health emergencies and health security, communicable diseases, noncommunicable diseases, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health, and health system strengthening that line up with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), certifying progress towards worldwide health coverage.

Regional Committee was asked to approve a proposed regional framework for cancer prevention and control. In WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean region cancer cases are diagnosed when treatments are less effective leading to pointless deaths. The proposed framework will be implemented for cancer prevention and control, according to their national situation. Cancer is increasing day by day and needs all our options in Pakistan.

Another concern for Pakistan is climate change and the Regional Committee was invited to recommend a restructured framework for climate change and health. WHO has called for burning global action to protect health from climate-related risks.

The SDGs to reach sustainable global economic social and environmental development by 2030, not possible without investment in adolescent health. The mortality rate of adolescent in low-income and middle-income countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region is the 2nd highest in the world. Member states urged to decode the commitments in Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent Health 2016–2030 into actions by executing national strategic plans for adolescent health.

WHO has presented a report 2016 progress to the member states targeting polio eradication, improving health and the environment, implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), implementation of the regional malaria action plan, and many others. Member states will also consider endorsement of resolutions and decisions for implementation of programmes to advance regional public health agenda.

Pakistan is a developing country but lags behind other countries when it comes to health and healthcare. We can learn much and, hopefully, establish lasting relationships that will lead to a better understanding of health concerns by hosting such events and inviting global leaders on health. Unity among nations is mandatory to fight disease and pestilence, we need to collaborate with each other.