Government of Canada Supports Global Efforts in Health

Taking collaborative action on maternal and child health, violence prevention, antimicrobial resistance, and public health emergencies

OTTAWA, May 26, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, participated in the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva this week. During the plenary sessions, committee meetings and events held on the sidelines of the WHA, Minister Ambrose pushed Canada's health and development goals with world health leaders.

Minister Ambrose addressed the Assembly on Monday, highlighting the importance of immunization to address the threat, and curb the spread of, infectious diseases in a world that is becoming more interconnected. She also spoke of the unacceptable number of women and children in developing countries who die each year — deaths that could be prevented with clean water, nutritious food and vaccinations — and reaffirmed Canada's ongoing commitment to advance maternal, newborn and child health priorities on the global stage.

Canada was pleased to support and co-sponsor a number of resolutions this week at the WHA:

  • Addressing the global challenge of violence, particularly violence against women and children, by strengthening the health sector response. Violence is a public health issue and the health system has a leading role to play in addressing violence and supporting victims;
  • The Every Newborn Action Plan, which aims to enhance and support coordinated planning and implementation of actions to improve newborn health. The plan aligns with Canada's efforts to champion international action to end preventable maternal and under-five child deaths, such as the 2010 Muskoka Initiative and the upcoming Global Summit on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Toronto, May 28-30, to be hosted by Prime Minister Harper;
  • Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The Government of Canada is committed to improving the quality of life for people living with ASD and their families through investments in surveillance, research and innovation in the treatment and care, and investments to support vocational training programs and new jobs for individuals with ASD;
  • A global plan to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The Government of Canada believes that effectively addressing this growing public health concern requires national and international collaboration in surveillance, research, knowledge transfer and exchange, and identification of best practices; and
  • Using the World Health Organization (WHO) traditional medicine strategy as the basis for national traditional and complementary medicine programs. This resolution acknowledges the growing recognition of traditional and complementary medicine and the importance of quality assurance, safety, proper use and effectiveness.

Minister Ambrose participated in several events focused on improving maternal and child health, and on reducing the burden of dementia, including:

  • A roundtable co-hosted by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Carole Presern, Executive Director, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, to discuss the strategies outlined in the Every Newborn Action Plan;
  • A panel co-hosted by Canada and Cameroon on working with communities to ensure that the most vulnerable mothers and children have access to life-saving health services. Minister Ambrose spoke of the need to harmonize efforts, pool know-how and track results, and announced Canadian funding of $36M over seven years for a research project on maternal, newborn and child health in sub-Saharan Africa; and
  • A panel hosted by the United Kingdom to continue collaboration established at the G8 Summit on Dementia, held last December in London, where G8 countries agreed to work together to address dementia.  Canada and France will co-host a Legacy Event in fall 2014 to explore how researchers and industry can work together to transform important research discoveries into meaningful solutions for people living with dementia, their families and their caregivers.

Minister Ambrose also met with international colleagues to discuss some of Canada's global health priorities:

  • Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Mercedes Juan, Mexico's Secretary of Health, to discuss global health security and sign a Declaration of Intent to Coordinate Emergency Public Health Communications that will support effective and consistent public information and communication during North American public health emergencies;
  • Jeremy Hunt, UK Secretary of State for Health, and Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, to discuss collaboration on health innovation, dementia, violence prevention and AMR;
  • Wang Guoqiang, Vice-Minister, National Health and Family Planning Commission and Commissioner for the State Administration for Traditional Chinese Medicine, China, to discuss working together on best practices around regulations and training for traditional Chinese medicine;
  • Dr. Chiu Wen-Ta, Minister of Health and Welfare of Chinese Taipei, on collaborating on technical regulations and standards to support pharmaceutical products and food safety between our countries;
  • Dr. Mansour Al-Howasi, Vice Minister for Health Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on the training of Saudi medical students by Canadian institutions and developing work plans to guide collaboration on topics of shared interest including infection prevention and control, laboratory safety and medical personnel training;
  • Shinako Tsuchiya, Senior Vice Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan, to discuss the upcoming Global Health Security Initiative Ministerial Meeting, which Japan will host in December 2014;
  • Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), to discuss maternal, newborn and child health priorities, Canada's response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, and emerging international health issues; and
  • Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on Canada's leadership on health priorities in the region, including contributing Canada's experience in promoting healthier weights to a PAHO Plan of Action for the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescents.

Quick Facts

  • The 67th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) takes place in Geneva, May19-24, 2014. The WHA is the main governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), representing over 194 countries. Canada has been a member of the WHO since its inception in 1948.
  • Canada is a world leader in promoting women and children's health in developing countries and in reducing the unacceptable mortality rates that these vulnerable populations face. Canada will host Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm's Reach, an international Summit in Toronto, May 28-30, 2014, that will shape the future of child and maternal health collaborations in Canada and around the world.
  • The Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa program, a collaboration among Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), will provide $36 million over seven years for important research in nine sub-Saharan African countries to resolve pressing health challenges and to improve primary health care related to related to maternal, newborn and child health.
  • The Declaration of Intent to Coordinate Emergency Public Health Communications is one of several agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, partners under the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza (NAPAPI), which aim to support a coordinated response to health emergencies.

"Global health issues continue to evolve. That's why Canada's participation in international meetings like the WHA is so valuable in ensuring that, together, we identify global health priorities and actions to balance our efforts between completing important work we identified in previous years — in particular the health-related Millennium Development Goals to improve women's and children's health — and emerging priorities."
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health

"The preventable deaths of mothers and children in developing countries are one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century, especially when many of those lives could have been saved with access to clean water, nutritious food or basic health treatments. While interventions like the Muskoka Initiative and subsequent global action have helped maternal and child mortality rates to decline, our work is far from being done. Canada will continue to push the health of mothers, newborns and children to the forefront of the global agenda."
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health

Associated Links
Minister Ambrose to Take Part in World Health Assembly in Geneva: Bringing Canada's perspective to global health challenges like maternal and child health
Speaking Notes for the Honourable Rona Ambrose Minister of Health — Statement to the World Health Assembly Plenary Session - May 19, 2014, Geneva, Switzerland
Canadian leadership improving the lives of women and children in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa program will accelerate progress on maternal, newborn and child health in nine sub-Saharan countries
Declaration of Intent to Coordinate Emergency Public Health Communications between the United States, Canada and the United Mexican States
The World Health Organization 67th World Health Assembly
Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm's Reach Summit

SOURCE: Public Health Agency of Canada

For further information:

Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 957-2983


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