In September, the President of SEARAME, Professor Rita Sood, took part in the WHO South East Asia Regional Committee 70th Session in the Maldives as the representative of WFME.
At the session about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and progress towards universal health coverage concerning the strengthening of primary health care services and health workforce, Professor Sood presented a statement citing WFME’s endorsement of the WHO agenda to strengthen health workforce, and the commitment to contribute in any way possible.
She highlighted the proliferation of the number of medical schools in many countries in the South East Asia region which poses a significant challenge to maintaining the quality of medical education. This is one of the reasons why it is important that accreditation of medical education gains strength in the region in order to discourage low quality medical schools.
The statements stressed that in order to maintain standards of medical education that are globally relevant, though contextual, it is essential that accreditation agencies follow set guidelines and procedures. The process for evaluation of accreditation programs and agencies is set out in the statement of WFME policy on the Recognition of Accreditation Agencies.
The WFME Criteria for accreditation were developed following the agreement on WHO-WFME Guidelines for Accreditation of Basic Medical Education (2005).
The key goals agreed by the Regional Committee were: access to health care, SDGs, universal health coverage and health systems resilience against climate change.
The SEA Regional Director, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, shared that the challenges that the region faces are real and complex. She emphasised her commitment to achieve the goal of universal health coverage. It was stressed that to achieve the SDG vision, it was essential to revive and adopt primary healthcare services and monitor inequalities to healthcare access.
The Ministerial round table discussed the effect of climate change on health. There was a thrust on development of resilient systems that can respond appropriately – the ministers and envoys for each of the eleven member states signed the Male’ declaration on building health systems resilience to climate change.
The WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros, stated that ‘there is nothing more important than strengthening and investing in health systems of your country’. As an example of the effectiveness of such investment, it was pointed out that the health spending by Maldives was 892 USD per person per annum. This was higher than most upper middle income countries, and it has resulted in marked improvement in health indicators in the country.
The President of SEARAME, Professor Rita Sood (second on the right), with Dr. Tedros and other delegates who gave a statement at the 70th session.