saarclogoThe 5th meeting of SAARC Health Ministers held at New Delhi, adopted the “Delhi Declaration on Public Health Challengesâ€.

Recognizing that the SAARC Member States account for nearly a quarter of the world population and face similar or even same challenges in the field of public health, prevention of diseases and providing better quality of life for our citizens;

Noting the past efforts emanating from the deliberations at previous meetings of SAARC Health Ministers including the meeting at Maldives in 2012, Dhaka in April 2006, Islamabad in 2005 and New Delhi in 2003, and the progress made for collaboration and cooperation among the Member States;

Guided by the emphasis placed by the Heads of States or Governments at the 18th SAARC Summit at Kathmandu, Nepal on November 26-27, 2014 on the importance of achieving universal health coverage, improving health regulatory systems, preparedness for emerging and reemerging diseases and the challenges posed by antimicrobial resistance and non-communicable diseases;

Cognizant of the fact that infectious diseases and pathogens do not recognize political and geographical boundaries, global integration, trade, travel and commerce make all countries vulnerable to threat of outbreaks which may emerge from any part of the globe;

Concerned that health systems and response mechanisms require further strengthening in each country especially in countries with less financial and technical resources;

Recognizing, the dedicated work done by healthcare workers for containing the recent Ebola virus disease outbreaks in certain countries, and that the public health emergency of international concern still continues including for the countries in the SAARC region;

Noting the recommendations made by the 5th Meeting of Technical Committee Meeting on Health and Population Activities held on April 6, 2015, which discussed important issues impacting the SAARC Member States, including the need for high quality and high coverage immunization for vaccine preventable diseases along with modern monitoring systems; action for prevention and control of tuberculosis, vector borne diseases, hepatitis B & C; non-communicable diseases and mental health disorders; international health regulations and prevention of infectious diseases; preventing and containing the threat of antimicrobial resistance; providing access to medicines and enhancing the quality and availability of human resources for health;

Noting the recommendations made by the Expert Group on HIV/AIDS in the meeting held on April 7, 2015;

Noting that the Meeting of Senior Officials has duly considered the recommendations of the Technical Committee on Health and Population Activities, as also the Expert Group on HIV/AIDS;

Recognizing the need to accelerate efforts with the aim to end AIDS epidemic in the region by 2030, as proposed by 18th SAARC Summit;

Recognizing that 80 percent of premature deaths associated with chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) occur in developing countries, highlighting the need for a comprehensive response to NCDs;

Acknowledging the value and importance of traditional medicines for effective healing of mind and body by making them a holistic part of our healthcare as well as the need of sharing knowledge, experience and the regulatory mechanisms thereon of respective Member States for securing public health needs;

Affirm the commitment of SAARC Member States to work together to cooperate and collaborate for addressing the identified health issues;

Further agree to strengthen cooperation on mutually agreed agreements for prevention and control of infectious diseases and for sharing of information in accordance with international health regulations and strengthening capacities for surveillance and monitoring of disease, rapid response and expanding diagnostic facilities;

Strongly reaffirm the commitment to the decisions taken at earlier Meetings of the SAARC Health Ministers and call upon Member States for early implementation of those decisions;

Declare our resolve to strengthen cooperation to promote availability and effective coverage of affordable vaccines including pentavalent vaccine and to also strengthen our response to make SAARC region polio free.

Agree to take appropriate coordinated action which may be required to be adopted by the Member States for prevention and control of Hepatitis which is a major public health issue in the region;

Call upon the Member States to maintain the momentum of actions under the Regional Strategy on HIV/AIDS, to share experience and expertise in the areas of surveillance, existing and new strategies to prevent the spread of HIV, and in rapid scale up of affordable treatment to achieve the 90-90-90 HIV treatment target 2020, to rapidly reduce new HIV infection and AIDS related deaths including from tuberculosis, with a view to ending AIDS by 2030;

Welcome the proposed SAARC Supra-national Reference laboratory for TB and HIV/AIDs, being established in Kathmandu, the support extended by the Member States for the same and India’s agreement to meet the balance cost not yet met by Member State contributions;

Reaffirm the commitments reflected while adopting the Resolution on Prevention and Control of non communicable diseases including an action plan and monitoring framework as per the World Health Assembly Resolution No. WHA66.10 dated May 27, 2013;

Reaffirm the commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC);

Agree to cooperate for combating mental disorders, including autism and neuro-development disorders, through a multi-pronged approach encompassing a Mental Health Policy, a life cycle approach to address the needs of such individuals throughout life, sharing of innovations in the field of Mental Health Promotion, diagnosis and management and exchange of best practices and experiences amongst SAARC Member States;

Agree to extend cooperation amongst the Member States for capacity development of human resources in public health and clinical medicine;

Agree to attach high priority to combat anti-microbial resistance, on prevention, systems of infection control, correct prescription and consumption practices, access to antibiotics, R&D and impact of antibiotic use in agricultural and animal husbandry sectors, while also carrying out assessment of the financial and other resources required therefor;

Decide to enhance regional collaboration and partnership in health research among SAARC countries by identifying the nodal technical officers from respective health/medical research councils/units/departments, to provide list of scientists, researchers, investigators from each country to develop and undertake joint collaborative research projects in the prioritized areas, to provide the list of laboratories ready to offer training / exchange of expertise with other member states and to organize Research Methodology Workshops;

Agree to cooperate in improving the standards, certification and regulatory mechanisms for drugs and pharmaceuticals with a view to promoting availability of quality, safe, efficacious and affordable medicines in all SAARC Member States.;

Reiterate our resolve to promote access to medicines including, if necessary, through the use of TRIPS flexibilities and encourage to take steps to promote these in the bilateral and regional trade agreements in order to protect public health interest;

Agree to cooperate in the field of traditional systems of medicines, including by encouraging visits of experts, organization of symposia, promotion of courses on traditional medicine under international fellowships or country support programmes, upgradation of educational standards, quality assurance and standardization of drugs, improving the availability of medicinal plant materials, research & development, awareness generation, etc.;

Agree to holding of annual meetings of the Technical Committee on Health and Population Activities to facilitate intra-regional cooperation and implementation of decisions taken in the earlier meetings of SAARC Health Ministers.

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