Achieving zero hunger, good health goes hand in hand: Dr Subramaniam

KUALA LUMPUR: To build a better system for health in a sustainable way, our notion of system must go beyond healthcare said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Speaking at the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA), he said it requires courageous steps as advocators to communicate the co-benefit of innovative public policy for health.

"In those areas that are foreign to us, we might not be able to lead but we must always guide so we can build the illusionary barrier of health and non-health sectors. Indeed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) make clear the case that all sectors are indeed health sectors," he said during a plenary session of WHA, hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

His speech text was send to Bernama, last night.

Dr Subramaniam said pollution and climate change is not simply an environmental issue once it alters the pattern of communicable disease because Arbovirus infection such as Dengue now spread beyond its typical temporal and geographical boundaries.

"A hungry world, a polluted world or a world where women do not stand equally cannot be defined or considered as a healthy world. Achieving zero hunger and good health goes hand in hand. "In our passionate search for new vaccine and medical technology, we must remember that no vaccine can prevent the detrimental effect of famine and no medicine can replace the damaging effects of stunted growth," he stressed.

The minister also said those type of inter linkages present complex challenges but the SDG's have a potential to catalyse into actions which have known for long that there are common solutions behind the multitudes of different issues.

He also noted that a societal level policy to reduce carbon emission would benefit not only the climate but also mortality due to air pollution.

"A societal level measure to reduce meat consumption will not only reduce diet related diseases, but will likewise reduce methane emission that contributes to climate change. It is clear that synergy can be harvested through cross sectoral partnership," he added.

Dr Subramaniam is leading the Malaysian delegation to WHA held from May 22-31 and attended by health ministers from 194 member states around the world. — Bernama