Bahrain Prime Minister becomes first recipient of WHO health leaders award

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World Health Organization Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus with Bahrain Prime Minister His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa at a past event.

The World Health Organization has recognized Bahrain Prime Minister His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa with a WHO Director-General’s health Leaders honour for his outstanding political leadership in advancing global healthcare and pursuing the leaving-no –one-behind agenda. The recognition is the first of its kind in the history of the organization.

The WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed Prime Minister Prince Khalifa for his numerous efforts in advancing global partnerships and collaboration towards access to affordable healthcare and his keenness in strengthening cooperation with the World Health Organization while investing heavily in his country’s health sector where services are free, in what has become a   global model.

“It is a great honour to have an audience with Your Royal Highness and thank you for your leadership and support and for efforts of the Kingdom of Bahrain in the health sector.  Bahrain has become a successful model in this area, and we would like to convey to the World Health Organization your experiences to other countries to benefit from,” said the Director-General during his meeting with the Prime Minister last November.

Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Bahrain health sector has undergone a metamorphosis with a raft of interventions that have sought to reduce the burden of disease by ensuring all citizens and foreign workers have access to comprehensive healthcare modern and through a network of health services at all levels, including primary, secondary healthcare and clinical care.

This, as government works on actualizing The Health Plan 2016-2025 meant to build confidence in the national health system, reducing diseases and inequalities in accessing healthcare and medicines, and in complementing the National Plan for Reducing Non-communicable Diseases, which was developed by the Ministry of Health.

The investment has paid off. Maternal mortality rates in Bahrain currently stands at 14 deaths per 100,000 live births surpassing the 2030 global target of 70 deaths per 100 live births. This has been due to the fact that 99.8 per cent of births are supervised by health professionals. Healthcare services are provided during pregnancy and involve prenatal and neonatal care among them vaccinations and family planning services.

The National Strategy for Children, a four year initiative that was launched in 2013, has been instrumental in reducing the deaths of children below five years to 12 deaths per 1,000 live births, 50 per cent lower than the global target of 24 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2030.

Increased community awareness on HIV infection and Tuberculosis prevention and the early detection of cases, particularly through the introduction of a pre-employment medical check-up system, and access to treatment for patients has reduced the risk of transmission, which in turn has reduced the risk of transmission with infection rates standing at 0.04 AIDS per 1,000 non-infected people and 0.17 TB per 1,000 people.

With cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases being the leading causes of death Bahrain, the government has adopted a national plan addressing non-communicable diseases which was recommended by the World Health Organization. The plan which is being fully implemented will see a reduction in the rate of premature deaths resulting from these diseases from 65per cent in 2010 to 48.8 per cent by 2025.

Under mental health services Bahrain has introduced mental health programmes in schools, coupled with the introduction of National Commission against Narcotics and Addiction which has resulted in deaths from suicide falling from 11 to 0.7 per 100,000 people for the period 2005-2014.

In 2017, the Ministry of Youth and Sports launched the ‘Takatof’, solidarity, programme to create awareness with a focus on young people. It also deals with the problems of drug abuse and addiction by utilizing peer education as a means to counter this epidemic.

To evaluate the health status of people living in Bahrain, a National Health Survey was launched in January 2018, in collaboration with the Information and eGovernment Authority.

This helped to identify risk factors and chronic diseases, in addition to providing information around maternal and child health. The implementation of this project was part of the Government Action Plan and is meant to contribute towards defining the health priorities of the country, by considering future strategies with regards to health expenditure, health insurance, human resources for the health sector, program management, monitoring and evaluation, and other factors that help decision makers develop health policies and programs which benefit the general public. The Survey was endorsed by WHO and has been implemented in more than 70 countries so far.

With these interventions now bearing fruits, the Prime Minister has called on World Health Organization member states to step up efforts at providing health for all by 2000 by developing strategies to reform and develop the health system in line with the goals of the World Health Organization.

“Affordable healthcare remains a key component for a prosperous world. However implementation of Sustainable development goal number 3 on good health and well-being is still snail paced. We need to learn from each other, forge partnerships and walk the talk if we are to realize this vital commitment. I am happy that Bahrain has made successful strides that are becoming global benchmarks. As a community of nations we can realize healthcare for all and leave no one behind if we work together,” the Prime Minister said.   

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