Address by Dr Shin Young-Soo, WHO Regional Director for Tte Western Pacific at the Expert Consultation on Public Health Law

Manila, Philippines
5 May 2011

Distinguished participants, Honourable guests and partners, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure, I welcome you all, to this Expert Consultation on Public Health Law.

Public health law and legislation is an essential tool in the implementation of health policy. It is an indicator in the evaluation of a country’s health policy - providing legal and administrative means, which assure the social conditions, in which people can be healthy.

It contributes to ensuring and facilitating development sustainability.

Despite the huge significance of public health laws and legislations, we are often faced with inadequate public health legislation. Legislation can be found to be outdated, it sometimes fails to address contemporary health issues, and furthermore, may not meet the changing needs of people and populations.

"The Workshop on Public Health Law for Pacific Island Countries", which took place in Auckland, New Zealand, on February 2007 – provides us with some experience in our region.

The workshop provided a forum for health policy advisers in the Pacific, to discuss up‑to‑date approaches on public health law. It also provided an opportunity to discuss other related aspects, concerning human rights and the interface between legislation and other sectors.

The proceedings in the workshop acknowledged that public health law is a central component of every government's attempt to improve and promote health for its citizens. Legislation is a necessary part of a health protection framework, which enables Member States to effectively detect, assess and appropriately respond to health threats.

This meeting of experts convened by the WHO has two objectives. The first is to conduct a peer review of Ms Genevieve Howse's document "Public Health Law in the Pacific: A Legislator's Companion." And the second, is to develop a framework for a legal analysis tool.

The tool will provide the means for countries, and individuals, to evaluate the status of public health law and legislation - in relation to WHO policies and agendas.

It will also be an innovative legal approach to WHO policies and agendas.

I hope our deliberations at this meeting will help strengthen efforts, among the experts in each Member State, towards a harmonized approach to develop a legal analysis tool. This will be a vital first step in promoting public health legal preparedness, and ultimately, will lead to improving the health and welfare of the people of this region.

I am confident that this meeting will contribute to this end.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a very successful meeting.