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WHO wraps up weeklong study of health problems in the Western Pacific Region

Fifty-seventh session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific - 18 to 22 September 2006, Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand, 22 September—The World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region today closed its 57th annual meeting after a week of deliberations in which member countries undertook to step up their defences against emerging diseases, including avian influenza, and were urged to devote more resources to counter the growing threat from noncommunicable diseases.

“Avian influenza remains the No. 1 emerging danger for global public health,” said Dr Richard Nesbit, WHO’s Acting Regional Director for the Western Pacific, “but the meeting also recognised that lifestyle diseases such as obesity, cancer and problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption have to be urgently addressed.”

The five-day meeting, from 18-22 September, also endorsed a regional strategy designed to stem the exodus of healthcare workers from poorer countries in the region to more affluent nations. The gathering of senior health officials from the Western Pacific’s 26 Member States heard that, unchecked, the migration could push some of the region’s public health systems to the brink of collapse.

Other issues examined included universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and control of tuberculosis, and programme updates on measles elimination, hepatitis B control and polio eradication, as well as tobacco control, mental health and environmental health

“We had a very broad agenda this year,” said Dr Nesbit. “I believe that it is a fair reflection of the magnitude of the health problems facing the region and of the determination of our Member States to tackle those issues.

The 58th session of the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific will take place on Jeju Island, the Republic of Korea, in 2007.


For more information, please contact:

Mr Peter Cordingley, WHO spokesman, at (+63) 917 844 3688
or email:

Ms Marilu Lingad, assistant/Public Information Office, at (+63) 918 9181094; Auckland mobile: 0210596777 or email: .


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