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Asia-Pacific officials to discuss health services, anti-poverty goals at UN meeting

Asia-Pacific officials to discuss health services, anti-poverty goals at UN meeting

The global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and strategies for boosting investments in health care are expected to top the agenda this week at the annual high-level meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

Officials from 62 UNESCAP member governments have gathered today in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the week-long meeting – 60 years after the body, then known as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, was founded in Shanghai.

The Asia-Pacific Business Forum, a two-day event starting tomorrow, is taking place alongside the Commission meeting, bringing together business leaders and civil society representatives as well as senior government officials.

UNESCAP Executive Secretary Kim Hak-Su said the Forum would “provide participants with a unique platform to discuss opportunities and challenges for Central Asia’s increasing integration into the global economy and to learn from other Asian experiences.”

During the Commission meeting’s ministerial segment, which begins on Monday, member nations will examine how the region’s poorest countries can achieve the MDGs by the target date of 2015.

They will also consider a UNESCAP study that shows a clear link between increased investment in health services and improved economic performance. It also recommends making the national health systems more accessible to vulnerable groups.

Spending on health services is so low in some of the Asia-Pacific region’s poorest countries – about 20 States spend less than $20 a person each year – that an additional $25 billion would be necessary to meet the minimum requirements, the study found.