Africa: 'Universal Health Coverage for Everyone, Everywhere'

April 10, 2019. WCO Port Louis. World Health Day 2019 was celebrated on April 08 at the Trianon Convention Centre in Quatre Bornes, Mauritius. This year the emphasis was laid on the theme, 'Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.'

In attendance, Dr Hon. Pravind Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, showing great personal commitment in the fight against NCDs. The latter launched the Non-Communicable Diseases and Risk Factors booklet on that occasion. Dr Hon. P. Jugnauth is actively participating in the National Sensitization Campaign since the celebration of the World Mental Health Day in 2017.

Also in attendance, Dr Laurent Musango, WHO representative in Mauritius, Dr Hon. A. Husnoo, Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Hon. D. Seesungkur, Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, Hon. P. Koonjoo, Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Hon. Mrs. L. D. Dookhun- Luchoomun, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research and Hon. M. S. Hurreeram, the Private Parliamentary Secretary. Other attendees included more than three n students from one hundred and fifty-six schools, parliamentary officers and teachers from schools all over the island. World Health Organization is promoting an integrated approach to tackle NCDS with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including key ministries, NGO's and civil society.

Dr Hon. P. Jugnauth in his speech, applauded the "Ministry of Health and Quality of Life and the collaborating Ministries for the integrated activities undertaken and efforts invested in tackling the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Mauritius." He further commended the National Sports and Physical Activity Policy launched in October 2018 by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and reiterated the need to "reinforce the sensitization campaigns to curb risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity and unhealthy food, including high intake of salts and sugar, particularly among the younger generation." The Hon, Prime Minister stated that "health is a priority for his government," as the country had committed itself to reducing the prevalence of NCDs by 25% in 2025 at the United Nations Assembly last year.

The Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Hon. Husnoo, elaborated the situation on NCDs pertaining to Mauritius and stated that NCDs are the leading cause of death, diseases and disability in Mauritius. The four major NCDs, namely cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and diabetes, account for nearly 81% of all deaths and 85% of the disease burden, putting increasing strain on health systems, economic development and the well-being of the whole population. He pledged to "strengthen intersectoral coordination of all stakeholders, further consolidate the role of Primary Health Care at the centre of care for NCDs and implement strong integrated Health Management Information Systems (e-health)."

Hon. Mrs. L. Dookhun-Luchoomun, Minister of Education recognized the most valued collaboration between her Ministry and other Ministries and stressed on the fact that "health and well-being will be incorporated in the curriculum of schools to sensitize students on ways of fighting NCD's and other diseases."

Other activities held on World Health Day 2019 included a film projection on the Universal Health Coverage, NCD screening, exhibition on risk factors of NCDs, Zumba demonstration by the Health Ministry's private instructor, sketch on 'Prevention of NCDs' by students of Queen Elizabeth College and a special Bhojpuri song on Prevention of Diabetes by Mr. Mahal Gory.

All participants in the celebration of this important yearly event recognized the vital need to tackle NCD's early in the life course to prevent suffering and save lives.

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