New Delhi: India is all set to host the fifth meeting of Health Ministers belonging to SAARC countries today to deliberate on key issues, including HIV/AIDS, prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and to strengthen collaborations amongst the nations.
Health Ministry officials said that the Health Ministers of all the SAARC nations are also expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the day to discuss various health issues.
The meeting will deliberate on a road map for strengthening collaboration among SAARC countries on a number of issues and challenges faced by them, the Health Ministry said.
Some of the prominent health issues to be discussed include prevention and control of communicable and non- communicable diseases, disease surveillance network, health infrastructure, human resources for health, immunisation for vaccine preventable diseases, HIV/AIDS, mental health among others.
The Health Ministers will also discuss adoption of the "Delhi Declaration" affirming their commitment to work together in identified areas and further strengthen health collaboration with agreed road map and timelines.
As per the Health Ministry, Firozuddin Feroz, Public Health Minister Afghanistan, Zahid Maleque, Health and Family Welfare Minister of Bangladesh, Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk, Minister of Health Bhutan, Ahmed Zuhoor, Health Minister of Maldives, Khaga Raj Adhikari, Health and Population Minister Nepal, Saira Afzal Tarar, Federal Minister of State for National Health Services of Pakistan and Rajitha Senaratne, Health Minister Sri Lanka will participate in the meeting.
SAARC countries comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka account for nearly a quarter of the world population.
These countries face similar health challenges and issues.
"The purpose of the meetings is to find out ways and means to synergise collective efforts, share strategies and implement identified best practices to provide better health and quality of life to the citizens of SAARC countries," the Health Ministry said.
The meeting also signals India's commitment to promote health cooperation in a more effective manner through the SAARC platform in keeping with the new policy of the government to promote cooperation among the neighbouring countries, it added.