It is yet another proud moment for Pakistan that the sixty-fourth session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean is being held in Islamabad next week. The WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean is one of WHO’s six regional offices around the world. It serves the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, which comprises of 21 member states and Palestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip), with a population of nearly 583 million people. The organization of the event in Islamabad shows Pakistan’s commitment to the cause of public healthcare and its focus on making united efforts at the international level to combat preventable diseases. It is a great honour for Pakistan that it will host health ministers and high-level representatives of the 22 countries and territories of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, partner organizations and civil society. These experts will take part in the high profile event and ponder over important public health priorities. One of the key features of the event is that the Regional Committee will be asked to endorse a proposed updated framework for action on climate change and health. Climate change is among the biggest global health threats of the 21st century, and a globally acknowledged problem. A persistent change in weather patterns has made flash floods and lengthy summers a global issue that is having a direct impact on human health. Besides dealing with the challenge of climate, decisions will be taken on the issue of regional character including stopping the spread of diseases, fighting epidemics, social protection and control of non-communicable diseases. This year the high profile event will focus on important milestones achieved in response to the five strategic priorities endorsed by countries of the region in 2012. Focus will also be placed on five priority areas of public health: emergencies and health security; communicable diseases; non-communicable diseases; maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health; and health system strengthening, which align with the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will ensure the country progress in moving towards universal health coverage. In today’s world, no country can single-handedly deal with the challenges of public health issues posing ever increasing threats to humanity. The formation of the WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean and subsequent initiates are laudable in the sense that these challenges are being dealt with collective efforts. In this great cause, Pakistan and its ministry of health are contributing positively. The hosting of the mega event in Islamabad is an acknowledgement at the international level that Pakistan is sincere in tackling these threats through a holistic approach. Pakistan’s Health Ministry is busy tackling the public health issues by formulating workable strategies. Among other achievements of the federal government, the launching of National Health Programme (NHP), designed to provide free healthcare to the underprivileged of Pakistan at both public and private hospitals is one of the commendable initiatives. As per the NHP, families that earn less than Rs 200 per day are provided with health insurance cards that enable them to get free treatment from designated hospitals. The cards cover treatments costing up to Rs 50,000 for common illnesses like the flu, fever or hepatitis, and set aside Rs 300,000 (with room to be extended to Rs 600,000) for more serious ailments and treatments like heart problems, dialysis or cancer treatment. Furthermore, it is stressed that the NHP is regulated to ensure that medical staff does not treat NHP cardholders with discrimination. It is commendable that the federal government has belatedly realised the importance of welfare projects. Moreover, the realisation of the NHP has been hailed as a much needed and highly welcomed initiative by the government, keeping in view the existing healthcare infrastructure in Pakistan. Pakistan is counted among the developing countries and faces a real threat from many curable diseases as well as the issue of dealing with climate change. In order to tackle these issues, the Ministry of Health is doing every bit by providing healthcare to citizens as access to good health is a right for all. Knowing the fact that international collaboration is needed to tackle healthcare challenges, Pakistan joined the WHO upon its establishment. The history of our country’s health sector has many optimistic aspects which have been achieved overtime through the collaboration of WHO. Following the WHO guidelines, Pakistan has launched and implemented multiple programmes that include polio eradication, malaria control programme, an expanded programme of immunization (EPI) and family planning programmes etc. All of these programmes are monitored by the national institute of health. So far, the endless efforts of WHO and Pakistan have collectively resulted in many positive outcomes such as eradication of polio, whose cases have been curtailed by almost 99 percent. Hopefully, the platform of WHO will further contribute to easing the suffering of humanity inflicted by manmade and natural causes. he writer is a freelancer and can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, October 8th 2017.