Fifty-ninth session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, 22-26 September, 2008, Manila, Philippines
MANILA, 24 September 2008—The World Health Organization says strengthening health systems, with primary health care as a guiding principle, is vital if countries are to make significant progress towards achieving internationally agreed global health goals.
Reaching health targets set in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals has been hampered by weaknesses in national health systems. These include inadequate human and financial resources, weak collaboration, inefficient management, and poor information.
In a speech to the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said that health systems should address the needs of the poor and other vulnerable and socially excluded groups, with primary health care as their focus. "Health systems oriented towards primary health care are more likely to deliver better health results and greater public satisfaction at lower costs," Dr Omi said.
In the Western Pacific Region, WHO has drawn up a Strategic Plan for Strengthening Health Systems, which WHO will use to guide its work with member States in the task of improving their health systems.
The Regional Committee, WHO's governing body in the Region, is meeting in Manila from 22 to 26 September to review WHO's work in the Region.