5th Meeting of SAARC Health Ministers in New Delhi

High Commission for Pakistan New Delhi *** Press Release No.12/PR-2015 08 April, 2015 “Pakistan is a firm believer in the effectiveness of the SAARC process and has always championed the cause of regional cooperation in finding solutions to issues that affect the entire region. Challenges like poverty and disease continue to afflict our people and remain an impediment to realization of full potential of those that live in this region that stands out for being the third largest in terms of GDP”, this was stated by Ms. Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination while representing the Government of Pakistan to the fifth meeting of SAARC Health Ministers at New Delhi, today. India is hosting the 5th meeting of the SAARC Health Ministers at New Delhi today. The meeting is being organized in pursuance of decisions taken by the SAARC Summit of Heads of State/ Governments held at Kathmandu in November, 2014. Prior to the Health Ministers’ meeting, the 7th Meeting of SAARC Expert Group on HIV/AIDS, 5th Meeting of the SAARC Technical Committee on Health and Population and the 5th Meeting of the SAARC Senior Officials (Health Secretaries) were held during 6-7 April, 2015. Referring to Pakistan’s region first policy, Ms. Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State for National Health Services, reiterated Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif’s vision of “Peace for development and development for peace.” Ms. Saira Afzal Tarar underscored significance of the meeting as leaders representing over a fifth of humanity were converged to deliberate on common challenges that confront people of the region, share experiences and chart a course for the future. She underlined need of cooperation among regional countries to fight poverty, disease and disability. She informed the participants that Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases remains the top priority for the federal and Provincial Governments in Pakistan. She apprised the audience that Pakistan has reduced polio cases in 2014 due to aggressive polio eradication drive. While enumerating Government’s reforms policies in health sector, she apprised that drug pricing policy was introduced in the country which provided for a transparent system of pricing where discretion was done away with. She further informed that the Government has taken a major stride forward in enhancing the size of pictorial health warning of each cigarette pack to an unprecedented 85 percent of the cigarette pack and made it mandatory for all cigarette manufacturers to carry it on their products. The step is hailed by the World Health Organization. The meeting was attended by Ms. Saira Afzal Tarar, Federal Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, Government of Pakistan, Mr. J. P. Nadda, Indian Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare,. Mr. Firozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health, Government of Afghanistan; Mr. Zahid Maleque, MP, State Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh; Mr. Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk, Minister of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan; Mr. Ahmed Zuhoor, Minister of Health, Government of Maldives; Mr. Khaga Raj Adhikari, Minister of Health & Population, Government of Nepal; and Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health & Indigenous Medicine, Government of Sri Lanka.