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31 March 2020

Inaugural Meeting of the WHO EMRO Regional Expert Network on Rheumatic Heart Disease

Photo of the Inaugural Meeting
Photo of the Inaugural Meeting

Reach, in partnership with the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO EMRO) co-hosted the inaugural meeting of the Regional Expert Network (REN) on Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Amman, Jordan from December 16th to 17th 2019.

The two-day meeting was held in order to take action towards implementation of World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution 71.14 passed in May 2018 and aimed to discuss the current situation in the region as well as develop and finalise a work plan for the coming biennium.

The REN is expected to carry forward the regional agenda and support implementation of the Regional Framework for Action (RFA) on Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, endorsed by Member States during the 66th Regional Committee Meeting held on 15 October 2019, by providing technical input to WHO EMRO-led country support in the field of RHD prevention and control. The RFA seeks to operationalize WHA Resolution 71.14, guiding Member States in developing/adapting comprehensive national programmes.

Dr Slim Slama (Regional Advisor, NCD Prevention and Management, WHO/EMRO) welcomed participants and opened the meeting. The current global momentum to address RF/RHD following the passing of a resolution at the World Health Assembly in May 2018 was outlined, along with the background to EMRO’s engagement on the issue and the objectives of the inaugural meeting of the REN.

Dr Nasim Pourghazian (Technical Officer, NCDs and Mental Health, WHO/EMRO) then presented the final RFA and outlined the steps taken for its development and endorsement. Following this, Dr Sophie La Vincente (Deputy Executive Director and Head of Country Programmes, Reach) gave a comprehensive update on both global and regional ARF/RHD prevention and control activities, highlighting potential areas for REN involvement. Session one of the first day ended with a summary of the finalised situation assessment of eleven EMR countries by Ms Lisa Telford of Reach.

Session two of day one focussed on current RHD-related activities and potential for further engagement with partner agencies; WHO/EMRO’s Child and Adolescent Health Department, UNICEF MENA and the World Heart Federation (WHF). The strategic direction of the REN including potential avenues for resource mobilisation moving forward concluded day one’s proceedings.

Day two of the meeting centred around the finalisation of a workplan for the coming biennium. Following a recap of day one’s proceedings, REN members then broke into groups to discuss potential activities before deciding on the specific actionable tasks on which they will focus over the next two years.

Next steps involve REN members actioning the agreed upon workplan developed during the meeting.