Opening Address of Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, at the WHO Category 2 (NCD): 'One WHO' Planning Workshop for PB2014-2015

Manila, Philippines
13 January 2014




Happy New Year!

As we start a new year and new biennium, I am pleased to see that the first big event at WPRO this year is NCDs --- a clear priority for my second term as Regional Director. I continue to emphasize that the Regional Office exists to provide strong support to countries, so I am very pleased to see our country office staff here. I also warmly welcome our colleagues from headquarters who will share the latest global developments in NCDs --- developments that have been truly dramatic over the last year.

The endorsement of the WHA of a Global NCD Action Plan was perhaps the most important achievement last year. We must now make sure that every country adopts its own targets to achieve the vision of the Global NCD Action Plan. In October last year, Ministers of Health endorsed the Regional Action Plan on NCD Prevention and Control --- which should help operationalize the Global Plan and prioritize the most pressing actions in the Western Pacific. All countries in the Region struggle with NCDs. While low- and middle-income countries need to focus on prevention, the necessity for a clearer agenda on the management of NCDs is becoming increasingly important.

In most high income countries, we are seeing bigger investments in prevention.

I note that there will be sessions on regulatory interventions, surveillance and NCD management in collaboration with other divisions in WPRO. NCDs require major changes in health systems so the link between NCDs and universal health coverage is key.

We need to be innovative to be effective. We need to create regional networks of professional groups, service providers and even hospitals and civil society to disseminate global and regional action plans and mobilize social and political support for setting and attaining targets.

Country offices are at the forefront of this work. The strengthening country offices and leadership by WRs is critical for advancing NCD programmes. So country offices are restructuring with thematic groups. This is a sound initiative and will help avoid duplication in many areas.

Bringing everyone together today is costly, but face-to-face events like this within the Organization produces priceless benefits --- it builds capacity and leadership, creates a productive working environment through strong interpersonal relationships and enables better understanding of the real needs and challenges of work in countries. Ultimately, we will be judged on how effective we are on delivery of support to countries to curb the NCD epidemic.

We must work as one harmonious and efficient WHO. I am leaving for EB where there will be discussions on NCDs. I look forward to hearing the outcome of your discussions and fully support your work.