Parliamentarians to drive actions to promote and protect health

Speaker of the Fijian Parliament Sir Hon. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has urged Parliamentarians from the 20 countries attending the 5th Asia Pacific Parliamentarian on Global Health (APPFGH) to drive actions in their countries that will promote and protect health and well-being for all.

While delivering the keynote address at the opening of the Forum, Hon. Ratu Epeli emphasized that Parliamentarians play a critical role in enacting laws for health, mobilise financial resources, monitor implementation and engage with patients, communities and stakeholders across sectors to ensure no one is left behind.

“Increasingly, Parliamentarians’ role have become crucial as you see it as your responsibility to advocate for health as the core of your country’s development agenda.

“As we have seen in the past years, many of today’s health challenges and threats – such as NCDs, ageing, climate change, HIV/AIDS and urbanisation – come from and are addressed beyond the health sector,” the Speaker said.

He highlighted that for a long time, many people saw health or health issues in isolation or disconnected from other development issues.

“However, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged, climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health, that is – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food, secure shelter and in the pacific, keeping our heads above water,” Hon. Ratu Epeli added.

Similar sentiments were echoed by the WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Takeshi Kasai.

“Parliamentarians from the Pacific can speak better than me but whenever I visit the Pacific, I can see climate change is not a scientific argument: it is a real threat to the people.

“This is a complex issue, requiring action beyond the health sector alone – but with significant benefits for health if we get it right. But I worry that our time is running out to take action – both on the health threats we already see from climate change today, and for future generations.”

The APPFGH is a platform for Parliamentarians to exchange ideas, build political will, strengthen capacity and foster collaboration towards sustainable action for health.

Throughout the two-day forum, participants will explore policy actions that provide added benefits for climate, society and health – including reduced hospital admissions, reduced employee absenteeism, and stronger and more sustainable economic development.

A field trip is also part of the programme where participants will visit Namoli village in Lautoka to see the effects of climate change.

The meeting will end tomorrow, Thursday 23 August 2019.