Sri Lankan President, DPRK get WHO Public Health Excellence award

SEAR/PR/1633

Colombo, 5 September 2016: The President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, and the Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were today conferred Excellence in Public Health awards by WHO South-East Asia Region for their remarkable and sustained role in the public health gains oftheir countries.

“Mr Sirisena has been awarded for his outstandingvisionary contributions and tireless pursuit of good health for the people of his country. He has been instrumental in strengthening health system and services and has made commendable contributions to tobacco control, drugs regulation, health of migrants and control of chronic kidney disease,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said here after honoring the President with the WHO award.

As Health Minister in 2010, Mr Sirisena challenged tobacco giants in the courts to put graphic warningson 80% of a cigarette pack. He successfully lobbied for tax increases on cigarettes to reduce tobacco demand. This year, the President vowed to further increase taxation on tobacco and end tobacco cultivation in Sri Lanka by 2018.

Mr Sirisena has also been the driving force for ensuring high quality affordable medicines, further advancing the goal of universal health coverage, and increasing the health budget of the country.

“The Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is being awarded for safeguarding and strengthening the traditional medicine system and using it to provide effective healthcare to people,” the Regional Director said.

The Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea provides both modern health care as well as access to Koryo traditional medicines to people at all levels of health care. Over 50% of primary health care is delivered with Koryo traditional medicine in the country.

The award, instituted two years ago, comprises of a citation and a plaque.

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