International meetings in Uzbekistan on maternal and child health: priority actions identified

WHO/Aziz Adkhamov

(From left) Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health with the WHO Regional Director for Europe.

Two international meetings on maternal and child health brought together hundreds of experts and representatives of national governments and international organizations, to discuss the reforms made by the Uzbek Government in accelerating progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 and to identify priority actions in the WHO European Region.

On 25–26 November 2011, two international meetings on maternal and child health were held in Tashkent: a symposium and a round table. They brought together hundreds of experts and representatives of national governments and international organizations, to discuss the reforms made by the Uzbek Government in accelerating progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 and to identify priority actions in the WHO European Region.

Symposium: “Healthy Mother – Healthy Child”

More than 300 world-renowned academics and representatives of health ministries from 36 countries in the European and other WHO regions attended an international symposium organized by the Government of Uzbekistan. They discussed developments in maternal and child health in the country, particularly the outcomes of recent public health reforms. These reforms focused on micronutrient deficiencies, immunization coverage and other issues and aimed to establish a unified approach to improving maternal and child health.

The President of Uzbekistan, Mr Islam Karimov, opened the symposium and gave WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan the order “Sog’lom Avlod Uchun” (For Healthy Generation) for her outstanding service in organizing WHO’s activities, advancing primary health care and implementing the global strategy on mother and child health care. Dr Chan expressed her gratitude for the award and spoke of the steps undertaken by the Uzbek Government in addressing these issues.

Holistic and intersectoral approach needed

The WHO Regional Director for Europe, Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, described key national government programmes and strategies, underlining the need for a holistic and intersectoral approach to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. She praised Uzbekistan’s political commitment to these goals.

The initiative of President Karimov, the symposium was organized by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It was attended by UNICEF’s Regional Director for Central, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Mr Steven Allen; Director of the UNFPA Sub-regional Office for Central Asia, Mr Nikolay Botev; the director of a regional health project of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Ms Evi-Kornelia Gruber; and a senior project specialist from the World Bank, Ms Suzanna Hayrapetyan. Representatives of other international and multilateral organizations also took part.

Round table on MDGs 4 and 5

The Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan organized the round table with technical support from WHO/Europe. The participants included representatives of 23 countries in the European and other WHO regions, and of international nongovernmental organizations.

Ms Jakab provided an overview of the progress towards and challenges to achieving MDGs 4 and 5 in the European Region. Then followed a panel discussion with Ms Elmira Basitkhanova, Deputy Prime Minister, and Mr Adkham Ikramov, Minister of Health of Uzbekistan; and the health ministers of Latvia and Azerbaijan, Ms Ingrida Circene and Professor Ogtay Shiraliyev, respectively.

The round-table participants discussed how stronger health systems can help to achieve MDGs 4 and 5 in countries and how to strengthen civil society’s role.

The representatives of UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank explained how these agencies can support countries in achieving MDGs 4 and 5. The participants agreed on action points:

  • to strengthen development cooperation in the European Region through leadership and shared responsibilities;
  • to strengthen broad national ownership and engage communities to foster local and sustainable solutions; and
  • to secure long-term financing and increase the efficiency of investment.