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WHO Regional Committee Session Convenes in Shanghai

The 55th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific opened in the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai on Monday.

Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi said at the opening ceremony that health played an indispensable role in the social and economic development of all countries. The health situation today has improved a lot with efforts by the governments and peoples all over the world.

However, many problems that seriously affected people's health had not yet been solved while new problems were still emerging and challenging the international society, said Wu.

She noted that the outbreaks and spreading of new types of communicable diseases proved that only by enhancing public health capacity building and international cooperation could the governments and organizations effectively cope with the emergencies in the field of public health.

China is a populous developing country. China has been making great efforts in improving the health service system, conditions and people's lives. The Chinese government had been vigorously pushing the reform and development of Chinese health drive and widely cooperating with the WHO, said Wu.

WHO Director-General Lee Jong-Wook thanked the Chinese government for its work for the session. "The annual gatherings in each region of WHO are an important event in the life of our organization," he said.

"China is one of the most vigorous and progressive countries in the world. Its achievements in the field of health make a great difference, not just to regional but to global health as well," said Shigeru Omi, director of WHO's Regional Committee for the Western Pacific.

During the five-day meeting, representatives from the WHO and 36 countries and areas in the Western Pacific will discuss major health issues including the reoccurrence of SARS, new human deaths from avian influenza, food safety, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, tobacco control and measles and hepatitis B.

Besides, the international cooperation in the face of the public health emergencies will be the focus of a ministerial round table to be attended by ministers of health or their representatives.

About 300 representatives from 36 countries and areas in the Western Pacific including health ministers and members from inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations are attending the session.

As host of this session, China dispatched a delegation headed by Vice-minister of Health Gao Qiang.

The Western Pacific Region now includes 37 countries and areas. The regional committee is one of the six major regional committees of WHO, which is composed of representatives from 34 countries and areas.

The annual session is usually held in September, at which budgets, working reports by the regional directors and policies are discussed.

China has been in good cooperative relations with the regional committee. It has attended all the meetings since 1973 except 1981.Beijing, China's capital, hosted the 38th annual session in 1987. Hong Kong and Macao have hosted the event as well.

(Xinhua News Agency September 13, 2004)

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