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Commonwealth Leaders’ Meeting Concludes; Includes Discussion About Health

Leaders issued a statement covering a variety of topics, including health, after a three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting concluded Sunday in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Xinhua reports (Manda, 11/30).

The communique “sign[ed] up all Commonwealth states – representing around 2 billion people – to work towards” a target of providing “universal healthcare for almost one-third of the world’s population, including free health care for women and children,” the U.K. Press Association reports. “The agreement … comes after Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s call … for all developing countries to remove fees for healthcare, starting with services for women and children.”

According to the news service, “No deadlines are being set for the achievement of free care for women and children, which is expected to be most difficult in large countries like India and Pakistan where fees present a barrier to many people getting treatment” (11/29).

Patrick Manning, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago and host of the summit, said a “key achievement” of the summit is the group’s promise to address non-communicable diseases (NCD), Xinhua writes. Manning said nations agreed to include a call for anti-NCD measures to be a part of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. Members also called for a September 2011 U.N. summit on the issue. The communique addresses a variety of other issues, including gender equality, food security and others (11/30).