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GBR | May 19, 2022

Transformational leadership key to tackling public health problems within Commonwealth, says Tufton

/ Our Today

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Jamaica’s Minister of Health & Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton (centre) chairs day two of the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in London on Thursday (May 19). Seated next to him (from left) are Dr Ruth Kattumuri, senior director for the Economic, Youth and Sustainable Development Directorate with the Commonwealth Secretariat; and Baroness Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General.

Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton has challenged Commonwealth Health Ministers to embrace transformational leadership in order to successfully overcome problems of inequity, sustainable financing and the future of work in public health.

Tufton was addressing day two of the 34th Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM), which concluded in London, England, today (May 19).

According to the health minister, COVID-19 has revealed many significant gaps in public health leadership globally, regionally and nationally – and it is time to address them.

HIGHER VACCINATION RATES IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

“These gaps have been especially apparent in matters related to vaccination, vaccine nationalism and the failure of multilateralism in general. The hoarding of vaccines, personal protective equipment and critical respiratory enabling goods placed the world and especially low-and middle-income countries in a dire predicament and threatened the viability of our crisis response,” Tufton noted.

“One outcome of this has been much higher vaccination rates in developed countries and rates below the 40 per cent threshold in other countries … The reality is that just over three per cent of people in low-income countries have been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to 60.18 per cent in high-income countries. More than 10 billion doses of vaccines have been administered worldwide but only one per cent administered in low-income countries,” he added.

At the same time, the minister said transformational leadership among the 54 member-state Commonwealth was critical, given prevailing and emergent health challenges, including brain drain with respect of human resources for health and the ongoing epidemic of non-communicable diseases.

“As leaders in health, we must begin to capture the imagination of those responsible for fiscal policy and convince them that health care spending is an investment.”

Dr Christopher Tufton, Jamaica’s minister of health

“As leaders in health, we must begin to capture the imagination of those responsible for fiscal policy and convince them that health care spending is an investment. We must argue that returns on and spend in health create greater sustainability, heighten productivity within our populations and build greater resilience that reduces vulnerability to future shocks like COVID-19,” he stressed.

“We must point out that this shock has wiped out billions of dollars of real growth in our economies and show the direct correlation between the sick profile of our peoples and its cost to national growth,” he encouraged.

The CHMM ran from May 17 to 19 at the Headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, under the theme ‘The Road to COVID-19 Recovery: Lessons Learnt for Building Health System Resilience to
advance Universal Health Coverage and Global Health Security in the Commonwealth’.

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