Congratulatory Remarks by Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific at Asia-Pacific Parliamentarian Forum for Global Health – 3rd Annual Meeting

Thursday 24 August 2017, Tokyo

Honourable Norihisa TAMURA
Honourable Katsunobu KATO (TBC), Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, Japan
Dr Yoshitake YOKOKURA, President, Japan Medical Association
Honourable Parliamentarians

My sincere thanks to the Japan Parliamentarian League for the World Health Organization for hosting us here today at the National Diet – and in particular, I would like to thank the Honourable Mr Tamura for his leadership and commitment.

I would also like to acknowledge our colleagues from the Republic of Korea who hosted the first two meetings of the Forum.

Since we first met two years ago in Seoul, it is wonderful to see that the Forum has now expanded to include 57 parliamentarians from 22 countries – by far the biggest gathering yet.

As well as increasing in number, this Forum is also growing in importance.

This is because in today’s world, health is no longer just a domestic political issue. Nowadays, an infectious disease can travel around the world in no time – meaning an outbreak in one country can be another country’s problem in a matter of hours.

Health is also no longer just the domain of health ministers. Many of today’s health challenges and threats – such as NCDs, climate change, and urbanization – originate outside the health sector. Managing these challenges requires unprecedented cooperation and collaboration across countries and sectors.

Antimicrobial resistance is a classic example: this is a problem with enormous health and economic consequences for every country in the world, which cannot be resolved by any one country or by the health sector alone.

For all of these reasons, Forums such as this one will play an increasingly important role in global health. This is because as policy-makers and political leaders, parliamentarians can influence political decisions at the highest levels.

You can help build bridges — across societies and borders — that lead to better health for everyone.

You also bring much-needed voices from all parts of society into the health and development discussion – which is more important in the current global development landscape than ever before.

With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders endorsed a different way of tackling development challenges, including good health and well-being. Delivering on the SDGs will require a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.

There is no better example of this than the two issues we will be focusing on today: promoting healthy ageing and addressing rapidly rising rates of NCDs.

As the world’s ‘greyest’ society, our host Japan has many years’ experience in planning for the needs of an ageing population – and much strong experience to share.

I am very much looking forward to the discussions on these topics over the next 2 days.

For WHO’s part, we remain firmly committed to supporting the important work of this Forum in any way we can.

Once again, thank you for the honour of addressing the opening of the Forum this morning. Thank you.