FSM Embassy Participates in Regional Ministerial Meeting for Asia and the Pacific on "Promoting Health Literacy"
Beijing, China (FSM Embassy): May 22, 2009 - (FSM Embassy-Beijing) The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Regional Ministerial Meeting for Asia and the Pacific on "Promoting Health Literacy" convened in Beijing, China from 29-30 April 2009. As mentioned in the Embassy's March 20 edition of weekly releases, the Beijing meeting is a lead up to the 2009 Economic and Social Council's Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) which is slated for July 2009 at the UN office in Geneva. This year's Annual Ministerial Review meeting in Geneva will focus on the theme of "Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health".
The two-day meeting in Beijing provided a forum for exchanges based on the theme of "promoting health literacy." The high-level meeting revolved around panel discussions and dialogue sessions that shared valuable experiences, findings, and recommendations with regards to health literacy. Topics that were presented and tackled together were the challenges of health literacy in Asia and the Pacific, the promotion of multi-sectoral actions, the promotion of health literacy through the media, building capacity to increase health literacy, as well as presentations of best practices and new initiatives on health literacy. In his welcoming remarks, the Honorable Dr. Zhu CHEN, Health Minister of China, set the tone of the meeting in stating that "in the health sector, health literacy is our best weapon and the most effective vaccine against diseases, which helps greatly in preventing diseases."
The meeting in Beijing produced valuable ideas and realistic solutions to improving health literacy. The meeting highlighted the importance of health literacy and its value in achieving the health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): to reduce maternal mortality by three quarters, to reduce infant mortality by two-thirds, and to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, all by the year 2015. The meeting had also stressed the importance of multi-sectoral cooperation and the power of the media in achieving the goals of promoting health literacy.
During the meeting, Ms. Sylvie Lucas, President of ECOSOC, expressed her confidence that "the recommendations that have been put forward on how to promote health literacy and empower people to achieve the MDGs will find their way both into legislative action at the global level and actual implementation plans at the regional and national levels." That said, President Lucas designated China to convey the highlights of the meeting in Beijing during the AMR meeting in Geneva this July.
Joining President Lucas to also acknowledge key points of the current meeting was Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). In his closing statement of the meeting, the Under-Secretary General of UNDESA agreed that health literacy can lead to substantial gains in public health and is critical in empowering individuals. He concludes that "health literacy is thus a key to the achievement of the health related development goals."
The regional ministerial meeting was well attended by Health Ministers from Asia and the Pacific, as well as representatives from other relevant organizations, academia and the private sector. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Honorable Vita Akapito Skilling was not able to attend the Ministerial meeting in Beijing. Representing the Federated States of Micronesia to the meeting were Chargé d' Affaires, a.i. Carl D. Apis and First Secretary Vincent Sivas. Health Ministers from the Pacific included the Honorable Health Ministers from Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.
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