Port Louis. 19 January 2023. The third World Health Organization Country Cooperation Strategy was launched on 18 January 2023 by the Health Minister, Dr the Hon K. Jagutpal and the WHO Representative in Mauritius, Dr Anne Ancia in the presence of UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Lisa Singh, other UN Agencies, European Union, Embassies, high level officials of the Ministry of Health and other ministries among others.
This four-year Country Cooperation Strategy lays down the road map of how the three levels of World Health Organization (WHO) will work with the Republic of Mauritius to improve health and wellness of the population. It has been harmonized with the national Vision 2030, the Government Programme, the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP) 2020-2024, the UN Strategic Partnership Framework and WHO General Programme of Work-13. It aims at progressing towards the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The document has been developed in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness following consultations with key players.
In his address, Dr the Hon Jagutpal acknowledged the ‘unflinching support’ received from the World Health Organization during the implementation of the first two country cooperation strategies but also during Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are grateful to the World Health Organization for the valuable support provided during the pandemic, especially the active participation of the WHO Representative in the High-level committee chaired by the Prime Minister. WHO provided valuable support for the elaboration of the guidelines and protocols to prevent and control Covid-19”. WHO’s support has been crucial in the procurement of vaccines through the COVAX facilities and in setting up the laboratory testing facilities and Covid-19 testing centres. WHO has provided support to the country for the elaboration of several national action plans and publication of the National Health Accounts, among other projects, said Dr the Hon K. Jagutpal. The implementation of the Country Cooperation Strategy 2023 -2026 will require at least 20.8 million USD.
Dr Anne Ancia, WHO Representative in Mauritius, said, “the overall goal of the Country Cooperation Strategy to scale up universal health coverage and by implementing the 4 strategic priorities, Mauritius will contribute to achieving the three billion goals.” WHO will continue to work towards strengthening partnership of both health and non-health actors, she added.
UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Lisa Singh, highlighted, ‘health is the foundation of a healthy economy”. Mauritius’ experience in the prevention and control of Covid-19 is a best practice. She acknowledged WHO’s excellent support to the country.
Over the last two decades, Mauritius has achieved impressive results in the improvement of the health of its population. These include for example a gain of 10 years in life expectancy; significant reductions in maternal, infant and child mortality and considerable progress in controlling major communicable diseases, and not to forget elimination of Malaria and other neglected Tropical Diseases.
Furthermore, the country is highly praised for the successful roll-out of its national NCD Prevention and Control program aiming to reduce preventable and premature morbidity, mortality and disability due to non-communicable diseases by addressing their risk-factors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, high salt and trans-fatty acids intakes, high blood pressure or insufficient physical activity.
Mauritius was the first country to set population-based surveys, aligned with the WHO Steps methodology, that have been carried out at 5 to 7 years interval. The last NCD survey conducted in 2021 shows encouraging results with regards to diabetes and obesity and a stabilization in other factors such as high blood pressure. What this survey shows is that the strategy is working and is to be continued and enhanced by increasing multisectoral prevention approaches to address societal, cultural and economic factors negatively impacting on the health of Mauritians. The prevalence of Diabetes used to be one of the highest in the world, has started to stabilize in 2015, and the 2021 survey shows a drop in prevalence from 22.7% in 2015 to 19.9% in 2021.
Similarly when we look at ensuring an equitable, affordable access to quality essential health services centered to and in proximity of the people , what we call Universal Health Coverage, we note that this index which looks at four key categories of health services coverage , namely services for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH); for Infectious diseases ; for Noncommunicable diseases; and in terms of Services accessibility and capacity; and of economic access – this Universal Health coverage index in Mauritius progressed from 52 in 2005 to 65 in 2019.
Dr A. Ancia, said, “it is very encouraging to see the health sector results in Mauritius which you can find summarized in our Country Cooperation Strategy and whereby out of the 26 indicators and sub-indicators of the SDG 3 “Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all stages”, 14 have been achieved, 11 are on track and only one remains behind, regarding family planning.” She reassured WHO’s support at the three levels of the Organization in improving health and wellness of the population.
The WHO Representative commanded the Health Minister for the impressive leadership, determination and effective prioritization of health by the country whereby the improvement of health care services to create healthy lifestyles for all Mauritians based on social, cultural and sports activities is included in the Government Program 2020-2024.
The Strategic Priorities are designed to support the Government of Mauritius for the next four years in implementing its ambitious agenda for health and has been aligned with the WHO global “triple billion” goals: 1) One billion more people benefit from universal health coverage; (2) One billion more people are better protected from health emergencies; and (3) One billion more people are enjoying better health and well-being.
Actions will be focused around four strategic priorities to build resilient health systems to continue advancing Universal Health Coverage; strengthen health system for improved emergency preparedness and response including for the risks related to climate change; promote health and healthy environments for all Mauritians through multisectoral engagement and support use of data, renewable energies and other innovations for integrated, people-centred care.