COMSTECH Webinar on HEALTH CARE IN OIC COUNTRIES: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS

Prof. Dr. Liaquat Ali

Pothikrit Institute of Health Studies (PIHS), Dhaka, Bangladesh

Date: 31 May 2023
Time: 1600 – 1700 Hrs Pakistan Standard Time

Summary of talk:

Realizing the central role of health in overall human development, socioeconomic progress and poverty alleviation, the Organization of Islamic Islamic Countries (OIC) has identified health domain as one of the important areas for joint Islamic action. The OIC Health Vision is in line with the health related goals of SDG planned to be implemented through Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030. Although considerable progress has been made, most of the OIC countries are facing difficult challenges to realize the Vision. Particularly the developing member states in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and war or conflict affected regions are suffering from inadequate health care in terms of availability and accessibility as well as affordability and quality. In many of them, health care systems are seriously suffering from various challenges related to adequate financial resources and infrastructure, workforce and appropriate national health policies and regulations. The unsatisfactory performance in the health sector is evident in all the six thematic areas of cooperation identified in the OIC Strategic Health Programme of Action (OIC-SHPA) 2014-2023, namely: Health System Strengthening; Disease Prevention and Control; Maternal, New-born and Child Health and Nutrition; Medicines, Vaccines and Medical Technologies; Emergency Health Response and Interventions; and Information, Research, Education and Advocacy. Apart from the rapidly rising burden of specific diseases or groups of diseases (like noncommunicable diseases or NCDs), an alarming message emerges from the analysis on the underlying common risk factors related to lifestyle like unhealthy transition in dietary practices, inadequate physical activity and harmful habits.  On average, the prevalence of insufficient physical activity in OIC countries is the highest (27.8 per cent) among all country groups. In consequence to inadequate physical activity and unhealthy diet, prevalence of obesity (a major contributor to a large number of NCDs) increased from 15.2 per cent in 2010 to 17 per cent in 2014 in OIC countries. In particular, high-income OIC countries suffer more from obesity.  Average per capita alcohol consumption in OIC countries increased from 1.9 litres in 2003 to 2.1 in 2013. An upward trend in the use of tobacco has also been observed with average tobacco smoking rate in OIC countries increasing from 18.3 per cent in 2006 to 19.8 per cent in 2015. This ‘off-track’ development is not only related to insufficient resources, but due to wrongly adopted health systems (often driven by external forces and market dynamics) are also responsible for such regressive movement in many cases. A 2019 study, using a Bootstrap Data Envelopment Analysis and Truncated regression approach, has shown that cost efficiency (CE), technical efficiency (TE) and allocative efficiency (AE) of health care system of OIC member countries on average are 0.52, 0.72, and 0.70, respectively. It indicates that OIC countries are not good at selecting cost efficient input mix. 

Under the above context the OIC needs to recognize ‘Health’ as a high priority sector with its transformation from a ‘medical’ issue (as perceived by many member states) to a ‘development’ issue. Some of the ground works have already been done, those are now required to be implemented (some on emergency basis). The OIC Ten-Year Programme of Action (TYPOA) adopted by the Third Extraordinary Islamic Summit held in Makkah Al-Mukarramah in 2005 places special emphasis on mother and child health care and fighting diseases and pandemics. The TYPOA Recommendations include the following: i) Mandate the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to coordinate with the OIC General Secretariat in order to make the necessary contacts with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant institutions to draw up a programme for combating diseases and epidemics, to be financed through the special fund that will be created within the IDB; and ii) Strengthen laws aimed at preserving the rights of children, enjoying the highest possible health levels, taking effective measures in order to eradicate poliomyelitis and protect them from all forms of violence and exploitation. Subsequent Islamic Conferences of Health Ministers (ICHMs), Islamic Summit Conferences and sessions of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) have adopted several decisions in the domain of health that cover issues such as preventing and combating diseases, improving mother and child health, achieving self-reliance in vaccine production and supply, establishing a Health Implementation Unit, strengthening health cooperation among OIC member countries and promoting health equity in the Islamic Ummah. In alignment with the first recommendation (triggered by the COVID-19 ppandemic), an agreement has been signed between WHO and IsDB on 21 November 2022 for promoting strategic collaboration to help their common Member States build better health systems, respond to emergencies and more. The OIC can be a major Partner of WHO in realizing the Organization’s evolving relationship with health-related personal beliefs, ‘faith-based organizations’ (FBOs), religious leaders and religious communities (‘religious actors’). This will be immensely useful in achieving the increasing emphasis of WHO on the ‘spiritual dimension’ of health which is fully in line with the teaching of Islam for the overall wellbeing of human being and nature.

Target Audience: This webinar is open to science policy makers, academicians, scientists and general public from all the member OIC states.

Profile of Speaker:

Prof Liaquat Ali is a biomedical scientist, educationist, and sociocultural activist with national and international reputation. With graduation in Medicine and MPhil in Medical Biochemistry from Dhaka University and PhD in Medical Cell Biology from Uppsala University (Sweden) he served various public and private institutions including IPGMR, BIRDEM and the Bangladesh University of Health Sciences or BUHS where he was the Founding Vice-Chancellor. In collaboration with a fairly large number of institutions in home and abroad he has supervised and co-supervised more than 300 MS, MPhil, MD and PhD students in various health and biomedical disciplines who are now working all over the world. About one-fifth of these students are from regional and international origin. With >280 papers/articles in peer-reviewed journals/books and nearly150 invited lectures in 39 countries of the world Prof Ali is one of the most cited biomedical scientists in the region. He has made significant contributions in the etiopathogenesis of diabetes mellitus among Bangalee population, methodology of antidiabetic plant medicine research, nutritional evaluation of local food materials, epidemiology of cardiometabolic diseases, and health system research in general. Along with his academic and scientific works, he has always participated actively in health related initiatives from the public as well as private sectors. He has been serving the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and its Directorates & Agencies as an Expert Member in a number of Committees. He is one of the 8 Public Health Advisors as well as the Convener/Member of several Committees of the Government to fight the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For his contribution in education, science and healthcare Prof Ali has been awarded with Fellowships/ Memberships/Honors from various professional organizations including Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, Indian Public Health Association, Islamic World Academy of Sciences and Indian Association for the Study of Asian Traditional Medicine.

In addition to his contribution in his professional fields Prof Ali is also known as a sociocultural and literary activist in Bangladesh. He is the Founding Chair of Pothikrit Foundation which operates a popular intellectually oriented cultural Center (Sangskriti Bikash Kendra or SBK) in Dhaka. He is also a Visiting Faculty in the Department of Theater & Performance Studies of Dhaka University teaching the ‘Philosophy and Psychology of Theater’ Course. He has particular interest in history & philosophy of sciences, and among his writings in this field the book ‘Geometry and Philosophy’, published by Bangla Academy is widely acclaimed by the readers.

Poster of webinar:  Attached

Link for registration and E- certificate:https://forms.gle/JoXHmignj75RMvgo6

Zoom link will be shared with registered and selected participant.

Participants who attend full lecture will be given E- certificates.

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