About WHO in the South-East Asia region
In recent days and weeks, countries in the Region have taken difficult decisions including implementation of unprecedented physical distancing measures to arrest the virus spread.
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In one of the six WHO regions in South-East Asia, WHO is home to more than a quarter of the world's population.
Committed to creating a better, healthier future for the nearly two billion people in the Region, WHO is working with 11 Member States to address persistent and emerging epidemiological and demographic challenges.
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Promoting universal health coverage - health for all - and building sound health systems are key priorities.
The region has eight flagship priority programs aligned with WHO's global three billion goals and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
WHO calls for stronger whole of society approach in South-East Asia Region
New Delhi - Against the backdrop of the rapid spread of COVID19 and the continuing challenges, the World Health Organization has now stressed the need to strengthen society and government efforts in the South-East Asia region to prevent a long-term pandemic and prevent further loss.
“A more comprehensive approach is needed with communities at the center of our response. Most importantly, communities need to be engaged and empowered to take appropriate decisions and measures. The onus must be on each one. At this stage, everyone needs to contribute to minimize health as well as socio-economic impact of the pandemic,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.
In recent days and weeks, the countries of the Region have taken difficult decisions, including unprecedented physical distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Nearly 1.5 billion people - in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand together - are currently in lockdown. With community support, we need to start seeing the impact of these measures in the coming weeks. At the same time, it also empowers countries to expand their health systems.
As physical distancing measures take effect and capacities are built, whatever the transmission scenario, with the right approach the virus can be contained. In areas where community transmission occurs, it can be suppressed and controlled, the Regional Director said.
"For each case, the cluster and evidence of transmission in the community will need to be actively reacted. Basic public health measures, such as active case detection, isolation, testing, treatment and contact tracing, are among our most powerful tools. Strict oversight is needed to assess and guide evidence-based measures," said Dr. Hetrapal Singh.
The Regional Director held a virtual meeting with the Region's health ministers to address the problems. Most countries pointed to the need for medical equipment, testing kits, personal protective equipment for health workers and capacity-building health systems, especially for community impact.
The Regional Director stated that WHO would continue to work with a network of pandemic networks to provide support to all countries at risk and critically affected countries. "These shortcomings are a global problem and will have a significant impact on the response. If we can't protect health workers and we can't get tested adequately, we're going to fight with one hand," she said.
The Regional Director thanked the countries of the Region for participating in the WHO Solidarity Test. India, Indonesia and Thailand have registered to participate in a multi-country trial that will compare the safety and efficacy of four different drugs or combinations of drugs against COVID-19.
“It is a historic undertaking that will dramatically reduce the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs are effective in treating COVID-19. The more countries that join, the faster we will have the results. I urge all countries to sign up,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said, adding that WHO would soon be launching a second protocol for the Solidarity Trial that will help establish incidence and prevalence of infection and the future behavior of the virus.