Commonwealth Health Ministers of the 54 member states of the Commonwealth, along with partner organisations, civil society, and policymakers are meeting this week for their annual summit that kicked off on Tuesday 17th of May to discuss lessons learnt from COVID-19 responses to build recovery, improve the resilience of health systems, and advance Universal Health Coverage goals.
The 3-day summit is being held virtually under the theme ‘The Road to COVID-19 Recovery: Lessons Learnt for Building Health System Resilience to advance UHC and Global Health Security in the Commonwealth’ and will provide a forum for health leaders to assess the current health situation in the Commonwealth and discuss key resolutions and areas of action on public health issues as the world recovers from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than one million of our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth.
COVID-19 vaccine equity remains a critical issue in the Commonwealth, and across the world – with more than 40% of the 2.5 billion people across our family of 54 nations yet to receive a single dose.”
As Commonwealth Health Ministers convene, the pandemic has exposed the inherent weaknesses and inequities in the Commonwealth’s small and least-developed states’ health systems, including major disruptions to essential services and strains on the workforce.
“We now have an opportunity to shape the kind of Commonwealth that we want. A Commonwealth that is healthy, equitable and safe. Let us come together now to chart our path forwards.” Secretary-General – Commonwealth
In keeping with the spirit of cooperation among member states, participants will have the opportunity to share knowledge and good practices in building resilient health systems, reflect on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to inform ongoing recovery and explore innovative approaches that can be adopted by member countries on challenges such as vaccine inequity and strategies to bolster health systems.
During his keynote address, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom called for countries to scale up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to reach the 70% target and prioritise robust and sustainable financing for health.
This year’s meeting is being chaired by Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton and at the conclusion of the meeting, a ministerial statement that outlines policy proposals for adoption and implementation will be issued and serve as a collective commitment for Commonwealth countries.