Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne addressed the 68th World Health Assembly on May 19 in Geneva and highlighted the progress which Sri Lanka has made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and universal health coverage, particularly with respect to Maternal & Child Health and the control of communicable diseases.

Highlighting the health scenario in the country he said that under the guidance of President Maithripala Sirisena, the country is poised to enter a new phase of health development and pointed out that the health burden of the country is now moving more towards non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular, respiratory neoplasm and diabetes, which account to over 70% of deaths.

Explaining further on country’s free health service since the 1930s, minister said that our health system has developed on a platform of efficient and effective primary healthcare, where equity is a central consideration. “The grassroots level workers such as Public Health Midwives and Pubic Health Inspectors visit every household to advice on maternal and child health, elderly care, sanitary practices, nutrition, and control of communicable diseases. This, along with the high level of female literacy, has contributed to our achievement of good health status at a comparatively low cost. We are set to achieve nearly all the MDGS by the end of 2015, and in areas such as maternal and child health we are looking beyond the MDGs.” Minister added.

Country’s achievement of “malaria free” end of this year, the post-tsunami period which not brought a single serious disease epidemic, the Disaster Preparedness and Response Unit and National Health Sector Disaster Preparedness Plan were other topics which the minister discussed.

He also highly talked about the New Medicines Regulatory Authority which is to ensure the quality of medicines and devices and make them available at affordable prices and the launch of the National Assessment Report on Implementation of Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property in March 2015.