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Press Release of Ministers of Health of Brazil, China, India, Russian Federation and South Africa

Ministers of Health of Brazil, China, India, Russian Federation and South Africa

Press Release

At the margins of the 63rd World Health Assembly, the Ministers of Health of Brazil, China, India, Russian Federation and South Africa discussed the following health issues under consideration in Geneva.

Social Determinants of Health

They recalled that, as recognized by the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978, "primary health care (…) involves, in addition to the health sector, all related sectors and aspects of national and community development."

They underscored that social development requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the problems of poverty, access to quality education and healthcare, among others.

They concurred that it is crucial to act on the social determinants of health to reduce health inequalities. This requires both national and international commitments. They reaffirmed that the search for evidence-based strategies is a powerful instrument to enhance health conditions worldwide. The Ministers welcomed the "World Conference on Social Determinants of Health: Acting on Social Determinants to Promote Health Equity", to be convened in 2011 in Brazil, pursuant to WHA Resolution 62.14.

Quality, safety and efficacy of medicines

The Ministers of Health reaffirmed the importance of WHO as an inter-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of public health. They reiterated the strong commitment of their countries to ensure that every patient receives quality, safe and efficacious (QSE) medicines. They qualified the WHO as a necessary partner in that effort. They asserted that these three features – quality, safety and efficacy – are important criteria related to public health and, therefore, relevant to define the mandate of WHO in this respect. They stressed the importance of quality affordable generic medication to ensure access to health for all.

They cautioned against attempts to develop new international rules on enforcement of intellectual property rights outside the appropriate fora of WTO.

Pandemic Influenza Preparedness

The Ministers of Health reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to improve and strengthen the multilateral system of virus and benefit sharing. They were of the view that the recent H1N1 outbreak exposed the shortcomings of the current system. While viruses were rapidly shared so as to enable the production of vaccines, benefits were not equally accessible to national health systems, particularly to the disadvantage of developing countries.

They considered the recent H1N1 pandemic as a wake-up call and invited the international community to take a stand and urged WHO to build a fairer and more inclusive system.

They stressed the need for a better balance between two equally important obligations: the obligation to share viruses and the obligation to share benefits. The Ministers also underlined that the future framework must include not only facilitated access to vaccines, antiviral drugs and diagnosis kits, but also the expansion of the capacity of developing countries to produce them. In particular, they agreed that technology transfer and participation in the results of scientific research is essential to guarantee that knowledge is shared. They reaffirmed the need for eliminating the barriers imposed by IPR while addressing the public health needs related to pandemics.

Health-related Millenium Development Goals

The Ministers expressed their concern over the limited progress on maternal and child health (MDGs 4 and 5), particularly maternal mortality, in the developing world. They reiterated the commitment of their countries to cooperate towards the reduction of deaths caused by pregnancy-related preventable complications. They also expressed concern that obstacles are faced by many countries to obtain vaccines and medication for children and women due to high prices and budget constraints. They have noted that some progress to reach universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment has been made. They regard all MDGs to be interrelated and highlighted the positive impact of poverty reduction and education for the improvement of health conditions worldwide.

Noncommunicable Diseases

The Ministers welcomed the recently adopted United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD) as an important step towards raising the priority accorded to these diseases. They reiterated that being responsible for 60 per cent of deaths globally and affecting in particular developing countries, NCDs must not be neglected. They have underlined that, in most cases, these deaths are preventable. They welcomed the initiative of the Government of the Russian Federation to organize an international ministerial conference on noncommunicable diseases in Moscow, in June 2011.

They recalled the need to undertake interventions to reduce risk factors of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, through the reduction of tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and excessive consumption of alcohol. They also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen national policies and plans to avoid and control these diseases, as well as their availability to promote partnerships to address the problem at the international level.

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