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Western Area Health Initiative launched

(People's Daily Online)

08:24, July 19, 2012

Statement from Dr Michael O'Leary, WHO Representative in China, for the Launch of the Western Area Health Initiative

Beijing, 18 July, 2012—Today on 18 July, 2012, we witnessed the launch of the Western Area Health Initiative, which is a collaboration effort among the Ministry of Health, China, the World Health Organization, and three sub-national level governments, to improve the health of the people living in the Western part of China.

This formal launch, with signing of MOUs among Ministry of Health, high-level representatives from Shaanxi Province, Chongqing Municipality, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and on behalf of WHO, both WHO's Director General and Regional Director, represents a major step in WHO’s work and relationship with China.

It is motivated in large part by the evident disparities that have developed as China has rapidly progressed, in terms of both its economic and health status. The western areas (12 provinces) have in general lagged behind the east, and this is where the remaining health challenges are greatest.

The Western Area Health Initiative provides a means for WHO collaboration at provincial level, to focus on the priority health problems as they are expressed in these most needed areas, in health systems, non-communicable diseases, remaining communicable disease challenges, and other provincially-identified priority areas. While all the top priorities are being identified, within this we seek to identify where WHO can best add value. Planning is comprehensive, but interventions must be phased based on resources.

Another innovation for WHO is increased engagement beyond the health sector, with other Government bodies, universities, and institutions, and potentially with NGOs and even the private sector. This is clear in the signing of these MOUs, which is done at the political level in provinces.

In signing the MOUs, this Initiative has received high political commitment, and we are ready to move ahead. Following this launch, all three parties will undertake programmes and activities to achieve the objectives of this Initiative.


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