Opening Remarks by Dr Shin Young-Soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific at the 5th Tripartite Health Ministers' Meeting between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea
HONOURABLE HEALTH MINISTERS
DR CHEN ZHU (CHINA),
MS YOKO KOMIYAMA (JAPAN),
MR RIM CHE MIN (REPUBLIC OF KOREA),
and Distinguished Delegates,
I am delighted to join you today at the 5th Tripartite Health Ministers' Meeting of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Since last year's meeting, three themes have captured the attention of the global community — noncommunicable diseases, disaster response and preparedness and food safety.
Let me briefly address these themes.
Two months ago the United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases gave the highest priority and commitment to fight NCDs.
China, Japan and the Republic of Korea played an important role in that meeting.
Last month our Regional Committee resolution stressed the need for Member States to follow the General Assembly's direction.
Before that, the Seoul Declaration, the Moscow Declaration and the Honiara Communiqué all urged action on NCDs.
In our Region, NCDs kill about 30 000 people a day — accounting for four out of five deaths.
We know how to combat NCDs.
Our challenge is to make certain NCD programmes reach the more than 1.8 billion people of the Region.
The "whole-of-government" or "whole-of-society" approach requires different branches of government to work together — and partner productively with civil society, academia and the private sector — to address the causes of NCDs.
China, Japan and the Republic of Korea understand the importance of including NCD control in the overall development plan. For example, China — with the support of the WHO — now includes NCD prevention and control as part of urban planning in the Government's campaign to develop its western region.
This type of hands-on application is what WHO and other architects of the Healthy Cities programme envisioned from the start.
The joint Japan-WHO programme — organized through the National Institute of Public Health in Saitama — is another strong example of capacity building to fight NCDs.
Next's year's programme in February will focus on healthier diets for children.
And last month the Republic of Korea co-hosted the International Cancer Control Congress with WHO.
The Government is looking for the best ways to fight NCDs, starting with priority interventions for cancer control.
Cancer control is one of a host of NCD components that WHO will be working to help address with the Republic of Korea — as well as China and Japan.
Precisely the theme of working together brings me to the next topic — disaster response and preparedness.
Earlier this year, the disaster in Japan made us all aware of the need to be more prepared to deal with the fury of nature — and the importance of regional cooperation and solidarity.
The earthquake — which triggered a tsunami that devastated coastal areas of Tohoku and southern Hokkaido — caused serious damage to the nuclear power facilities in the area.
The triple disaster — earthquake, then tsunami, then a nuclear emergency — was a test for the Region.
China and the Republic of Korea answered the call, showing their willingness to help and solidarity.
Japan's swift response — bolstered by these regional and global partnerships — helped reduce impacts of the disaster and get the country on the road to recovery sooner.
Three years earlier, the world came to China's aid after the Wenchuan earthquake left more than 80 000 dead or missing and some 15 million homeless.
Throughout these tragedies, WHO has been a strong and expert ally — from providing on-the-ground technical assistance during response and recovery to helping avoid disease outbreaks in the aftermath.
Indeed, we appreciate your trust in us.
In this spirit, we put forward the Western Pacific Regional Food Safety Strategy after consulting with partners all over the Region to make certain the needs of Member States were addressed.
The threat of foodborne disease and food contamination is a constant concern for Member States.
Japan suffered an E.Coli outbreak earlier this year.
Less developed Member States have an even harder time of monitoring food systems.
The lesson is clear: we need to be more prepared.
The new strategy was developed after extensive consultation, including the tripartite meeting last year in Korea.
Last month, Member States endorsed the strategy at the session of the Regional Committee.
Again, I would like to thank China, Japan and the Republic of Korea for your support.
We hope this new strategy serves as a framework to further strengthen food control systems and improve collaboration in the Region.
Whether the goal is enhancing food safety… improving disaster preparedness… or confronting NCDs… — the World Health Organization welcomes the opportunity to collaborate more with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
What's more, we look forward to supporting your work on important health issues, including pandemic influenza, health-related Millennium Development Goals and many others.
As the Regional Director of the Western Pacific, I am pleased to see such productive international solidarity and committed to helping foster even greater collaboration going forward.
Thank you and I wish you all a successful meeting.