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Chinese minister calls for "sense of urgency" on UN millennium goals

GENEVA, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The international community should have "a sense of urgency" in their efforts to realize the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Chinese Minister of Health Chen Zhu said here on Monday.

"The deadline of the MDGs is only five years away, and we are facing huge challenges at this critical moment," Chen told the annual assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO).

"The international community should have sense of mission and urgency to reach consensus, coordinate actions, and accelerate progress," Chen said.

Addressing delegates from the WHO's 193 member states, Chen said that despite the unremitting efforts of the international community, "the MDG health indicators of women and children have been improving slowly and the situations are far from optimistic."

"China holds that health of women and children constitutes an important element in a country's national basic health system and it reflects the social and economic development level," he stressed.

Chen said the attainment of the MDGs would be "a historical milestone," and he urged governments to share this responsibility and "take stronger measures."

One of the proposals the minister made at the conference was to improve the health of the people, particularly women and children.

"The ultimate goal of social and economic development is better life and brighter future for the people, and health is the basis of good life," he said.

To improve the health of the people, countries need to build a strong and powerful health system so that they can provide comprehensive health services and tackle public health emergencies, according to the minister.

"All countries should attach importance to the building of such a system with articulated political commitments and substantial input," he said.

Chen also highlighted the importance for controlling chronic and noncommunicable diseases, which "consume large quantities of health resources and afflict social and economic development."

"To ensure sustainable health, social and economic development, the international community should conduct researches and take more effective countermeasures in its fight against such diseases, " he said.

The minister also called on developed countries to increase their assistance to developing countries so that they can improve their health system and be more capable of dealing with health challenges.

"Health is an eternal theme of mankind, and the attainment of the MDGs is our common pursuit. China hopes that countries worldwide will stay closer and help each other to ward off disease threats and build our beautiful homes of health and harmony," Chen said.

The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the WHO's supreme decision- making body. This year's five-day conference will discuss a wide variety of public health issues as well as administration and management matters.

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