This May 18th to May 26th, the World Health Assembly, the supreme decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), arguably the most influential healthcare policy thought leader in the world, are convening in Geneva to take stock of each of the 194 member countries’ progress towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were established in the year 2000.
Though vast progress has been made, as the world’s population continues to grow and resources in developing nations continue to be stretched, ministries of health and healthcare companies must continue to collaborate to make quality healthcare accessible to more people worldwide.
GE Healthcare and the UK Mission to the United Nations in Geneva organized an event at the Assembly on May 19th about creating affordable and sustainable healthcare systems through technology innovation and partnerships. Karim Karti, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for GE Healthcare was the Keynote Speaker who talked about developing technology that provided the solutions ,while opening remarks came from Ambassador Julian Braithwaite, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva.
Introducing the event, Ambassador Julian Braithwaite said, “The UK is delighted to be organizing this event in partnership with GE Healthcare, who have shown through their investments in the UK how innovation can improve healthcare and bring wider economic benefits too.”
During the event, Farid Fezoua, CEO of GE Healthcare Africa, said, “To build sustainable healthcare systems, you have to understand the potential gaps in your referral system and continuum of care conditioning the patient’s journey to a healthcare facility or point of care.”
Karim Karti, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for GE Healthcare delivered a keynote speech about the importance of developing technology that builds on current infrastructures.
“It is about combining the right and adapted technologies, private and public partnerships, capability building and adequate funding mechanisms,” added Fezoua. “The latter truly determine our ability to achieve long term and sustainable healthcare outcomes.”
In particular, GE Healthcare will be reaffirming their commitment to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health (MDGs 4 and 5). Since 2004, the company has strived to meet these MDGs by committing over $120 million in over 250 healthcare facilities throughout Africa, Latin America and South East Asia, impacting around 15 million lives.
With this year’s transition to the wider-ranging Sustainable Development Goals, governments and healthcare companies must continue to adhere to the mission statement, “ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.”
David Utama, President and CEO of GE Healthcare ASEAN, said, “We need to focus on the basic needs of operators. We should educate healthcare staff on using the technology to give them greater capacity.”
Development Goals: Beyond 2015
This year’s Assembly also presents a chance to take stock of what has been achieved since the original MDGs were established in 2000. Now, around 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. However, it is still the case that up to 6 million children still die each year before their fifth birthday, so efforts must be stepped up.
Between 1990 and 2013, the maternal mortality rate dropped by 45 per cent, and the progress has been seen across all regions. But the target set by MDG 5 in 2000 has yet to be met, so efforts must be redoubled. These days, only half of women in developing regions get the recommended healthcare they need during pregnancy.
The key to stepping up efforts against mother and infant mortality lies in making diagnoses earlier and strengthening primary care infrastructure. This will be done by building capacity in hospitals and healthcare centers, and continuing to train and accredit local healthcare professionals in collaboration with Ministries of Health.
Several innovations in technology and infrastructure have so far been unveiled at this year’s WHA to show how the new goals will be met, like the new Vscan Access portable ultrasound system.