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Statement by H.E Professor Chen Zhu, Head of the Chinese Delegation and Minister of Health of the People's Republic of China at the General Discussion of the 63rd World Health Assembly
2010/05/24

Attaining the Millennium Development Goals:Our Shared Responsibility

Statement by H.E. Professor Chen Zhu, Head of the Chinese Delegation and Minister of Health of the People's Republic of China

at the General Discussion of the 63rd World Health Assembly

(Geneva, 17 May 2010)

Honorable Mr. Chairman,

Honorable Director-General, Ministers and Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, please allow me to congratulate Mr. Chairman for your election. I believe that, under your strong leadership, this session will surely be a great success. I would also like to congratulate Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. Thank you for leading the Secretariat over the past year in assisting countries in their fight against the Pandemic H1N1, in overcoming the challenges such as capital shortfalls brought about by the financial crisis, and in leading and coordinating global health reforms and development.

One month ago, at 07:49 on April 14th, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China, was hit by a devastating earthquake of 7.1 Richter scale, which caused heavy losses of lives and property. 2,220 people were killed. After the earthquake, the Chinese government and all the Chinese people reacted quickly with dedicated relief efforts. President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and many other state leaders personally went to the hit areas to console victims and to command relief work. emergency rescue work were quickly carried out despite many challenges as a result of high altitude and sever weathers. All the injured have been treated; food, shelter and medical care have been guaranteed for the local people; the utilities have been restored. Currently, the hit area has entered a new stage of restoration and reconstruction. Now, on behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the international community for all the support and consolation.

Mr. Chairman and colleagues,

Now, the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals is only five years away, and we are facing huge challenges at this critical moment. The international community should have sense of mission and urgency to reach consensus, coordinate actions, and accelerate progress.

In 2009, China’s under-five child mortality rate was 17.2‰, a decrease of 71.8% over that in 1990, reaching the MDGs ahead of schedule. China’s maternal mortality rate was 31.9/100,000, a decrease of 66.4% over that in 1990, closely approaching MDGs. HIV/AIDS were of low prevalence among the general population, but of high prevalence among specific groups and regions, with a slowed down spreading speed. The incidence of malaria remained below 5/100,000 since 1995, reaching our planned goal far ahead of schedule. DOTS coverage for TB patients was 100%, and the cure rate has been kept above 85% since 1994.

China still has many challenges on its way to realizing the MDGs. There exists rather big gaps in terms of health situations between the urban and the rural residents, and such imbalance can also be found among various regions, eg. indicators from the western provinces are still discouraging. The aging of the population and the change of disease patterns give China a dual burden in controlling both non-communicable and communicable diseases. Accelerating urbanization has raised higher demands for public health services. The number of migrant workers in cities has reached 140 million, which poses another challenge to the health system. In April 2009, the Chinese government launched in-depth health system reform to roll out basic medical care systems across both urban and rural residents, with a view to promoting attainment of MDGS in a balanced fashion.

Mr. Chairman and colleagues,

Despite the unremitting efforts of the international community, the MDG health indicators of women and children have been improving slowly and the situations are far from optimistic. China holds that health of women and children constitutes an important element in a country’s national basic health system and it reflects the social and economic development level. The attainment of the MDGs will be a historical milestone, and it is the shared responsibility of the international community, so we must take stronger measures to accelerate the realization of the MDGs. To this end, I would like to make the following proposals:

First and foremost, we should promote the realization of MDGs. The health of women and children should be prioritized in social and economic development. Without healthy citizens, there is nothing like “Xiaokang”, ie “well-off society”. The ultimate goal of social and economic development is better life and brighter future for the people, and health is the basis of good life.

Secondly, we should intensify capacity building of the health system. A population’s health cannot generally improve without comprehensive health services and effective insurance systems. A strong and powerful health system is the key against natural disasters, public health emergencies and climate changes. All countries should attach importance to the building of such a system with articulated political commitments and substantial input. Primary health care should be intensified, and various sectors of the entire society should be mobilized to support and participate in the reform and development.

Thirdly, we should exercise effective control over the consequences of chronic and noncommunicable diseases. Consuming large quantities of health resources, chronic and noncommunicable diseases are afflicting social and economic development. To ensure sustainable health, social and economic development, the international community should conduct researches and take more effective countermeasures in its fight against such diseases.

Fourthly, we suggest greater support be given to developing countries. Developed countries should honor their commitments and increase their assistance. Developing countries should intensify the south-south cooperation, share experiences and support each other. International organizations such as WHO, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, should foster partnership and integrate international resources so as to improve health system and to push the realization of MDGs. China, within its own capacities, will be ready to support other developing countries in such persuit.

Mr. Chairman and colleagues,

Health is an eternal theme of mankind, and the attainment of the MDGs is our common pursuit. China hopes that countries worldwide stay closer and help each other to ward off disease threats and build our beautiful homes of health and harmony.

Thank you all.

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