Iran's experience in health sector to be shared with others
Tehran, April 15, (IRNA) The theme of this year's World Health Day, April 7th, was international health security.
With this theme, which will run through the whole year, the World Health Organization (WHO) seeks to highlight the need to reduce the vulnerability of people around the world to new, acute or rapidly spreading risks to health, particularly those that threaten to go far beyond national borders, through travel, trade or any other means and have an impact on the collective security of people around the world.
It is well recognized that health, development and global security are closely linked. This requires collective effort by both the developing and developed countries around the world. Without this, it will be difficult to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals that the world leaders have committed themselves to.
Like every year, the Islamic Republic of Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education has played a leading role to propagate the message of this year's World Health Day in the country, a press release issued by the UN Information Center (UNIC) said here Sunday.
Iran's initiatives in the area of health security are being appreciated internationally. According to Dr Hussein A. Gezairy, Regional Director, WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, "International health security is everyone's ultimate goal. To become a reality, it requires a lot of investment on our part. The Islamic Republic of Iran is currently leading a sizeable number of initiatives in control of communicable diseases of international health concern. Transparency and commitment at all levels are commendable. Adding to this, a well functioning Primary Health Centre (PHC) system and wide network of the Universities of Medical Sciences are the strengths of the health care system in the country. WHO expects sharing these invaluable experiences with other member states starting with the neighboring countries through materialization of the MOUs."
The challenges to international health security are manifold and complex. The spread of diseases, natural disasters, environmental change, terrorism or chemical leaks can all have a major impact on people and economies around the world.
Recent decades have seen the emergence of new disease challenges for national and international public health. According to data available with WHO, the last decades of 20th century saw new diseases emerging at the unprecedented rate of one or more per year. From 1973 to 2000, 39 infectious agents capable of causing human disease were newly identified. Add to this the fact that the rate of failure due to drug resistance outpaced scientific discovery of replacement drugs.
No one would have forgotten the highly contagious SARS or the more recent H5N1 avian influenza. It was clear that neither of these were strictly domestic affairs.
But their consequences were not just on the health front. Their economic consequences were equally harmful. For instance, with fewer than 10,000 cases, the SARS outbreak cost Asian countries $60 billion of losses in the second quarter of 2003 alone. So controlling the international spread of disease is good practice for economies as well as for those whose health is at risk. The negative impact of the spread of HIV/AIDS on the health and economic well being of a country have also been catalogued over the years.
In June 2007, the revised International Health Regulations (IHR) will come into force. The IHR are the world's first legally binding agreement in the fight against public health emergencies. IHR work through requiring mandatory reporting by any country of a "public health event of international concern" that is identified within its national borders. The main aim of the IHR are to prevent, protect against, control and respond to the international spread of disease while avoiding unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.
Effective national health systems are at the base of international health security. Iran's health system has performed admirably compared to many other countries, particularly among the developing world. But there are new challenges which are emerging. To make the health system more responsive to the needs of the population, the partnership of WHO with the national authorities focuses on sustainable development by enhancing leadership capacities to meet the demands of globalization, strengthening human resources for health, devising approaches for risk reduction, promoting a culture of research and technological development and building institutional mechanisms for effective response during emergencies.