Dr. Kabir Sheikh, Chair of Health Systems Global (HSG), an organization promoting health systems research and knowledge translation, has said global and national leaders must recognise that tackling major health challenges is not restricted to treating people when they are sick.

According to a statement, the helmsman of the HSG, co-sponsor of the ongoing fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR), spoke at the event in Liverpool, England.

He said tackling health challenges, “means addressing persistent inequalities that put the most vulnerable at risk of poor health. It means tackling pollution, supporting refugees, educating children, promoting gender equity and building and maintaining public infrastructure. It means ensuring that all people have social protections, so that they don’t have to make difficult choices between healthcare and other basic needs.”

Sheikh stressed that there is urgent need to create platforms on which common people have a say in planning for their own health.

He said, “Without investment in research to support such system improvements, it will be tough for us to achieve the sustainable development goals.”

While there has been phenomenal increases in global wealth – up by an estimated 66 percent over the last two decades (from USD$690trillion to USD$1,143trillion) – “the poor are more vulnerable to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and at high risk to infectious diseases like cholera or diarrhoea, especially in a humanitarian crisis,” the statement read.

Professor Sally Theobald of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and representative on the Symposium Executive Committee also bellowed the call on governments and international agencies to tackle the inequalities that prevent poorer communities from living healthy lives.

Speaking on the essence of the Symposium, she said, HSR2018 is a critical milestone in the global movement to achieve universal health coverage.

Commended the timing of the Symposium which is set between the high level UN General Assembly in September and Primary Healthcare Conference at the end of October, she said, “there is no better time to bring together these debates in Liverpool. Liverpool’s rich history highlights its notable position as a pioneer in the public health movement, making it the perfect location for the 2018 Symposium. Yet, Liverpool is still the most deprived local authority district in England, and has some of the greatest health inequalities in the UK, so it can truly speak to the challenges at the heart of the Symposium.”

While advocating for leaders to address the lack of access to quality health services, education, clean water and environment, public safety, and fair legal systems, experts at event said the call is applicable to the needs of people living in more affluent countries as it is for those in poorer nations.

“Addressing these inequalities is critical to meeting the vision of ‘Health for All’ that was set out in the Alma Ata declaration that marks its fortieth anniversary this year. The anniversary marks a renewed energy amongst the global community to achieve universal health coverage by 2030,” they said.

The symposium opened today and will end on the 12th of October.

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