The GCC Health Ministers held informal gatherings, such as the one held in Geneva on May 16, 1975, on the sidelines of the World Health Organization General Assembly meetings, which marked the beginning of cooperation in the health sector among the GCC States in the middle of the 20th century.
“The Council of the GCC Health Ministers” Formation
Following discussions among the concerned States, this cooperation led to the “Conference of the Health Ministers of the Arab Countries in the Gulf,” which met for the first time in February 1976. It later changed its name to “the Council of the Health Ministers of the Arab Countries in the Gulf” in 1981, and since 1991, it has been known as “The Council of the GCC Health Ministers.”
Recognising the progress made by the joint health action within the framework of coordination and cooperation and taking into account the significance of the health sector to GCC activities, the Office’s accomplishments have been completed through subsequent efforts, which benefited from the comprehensive viewpoint and political support made possible by operating within the GCC framework.
In this regard, the goals outlined in the GCC Chart and the Economic Agreement served as the fundamental justification for the coordination and cooperation efforts made by the organisations in charge of handling health matters in the GCC States to achieve the following goals:
Objectives of the Health Field
- The growth of coordination and collaboration between Member States in therapeutic, preventive, and rehabilitative health fields.
- Recognising the ideas behind various health affairs and working to align them, set priorities for them, and adopt common programmes.
- Expanding collaboration with Arab and international health organisations and creating new convergence points with global experience.
- The programme of group purchasing medications and medical supplies allows for the acquisition of high-quality, safe, and cost-effective medicines.
The Following Are Some of The Accomplishments
- Ensuring that GCC citizens receive equal national treatment when receiving health services in all Member States was accomplished through the publication of a resolution by the Supreme Council mandating that GCC citizens receive the same national treatment at public hospitals, clinics, and health facilities.
- Moving organ implantation teams between GCC States with ease.
- Upgrading tobacco products’ customs duties from 50% to 100%. All Member States have implemented this resolution. The member states of the GCC are thinking about raising tobacco taxes by 150%.
- Proper medical waste disposal in hospitals and healthcare facilities. “Unified Law for Management of Healthcare Wastes” was approved by the Supreme Council at its 20th session in Riyadh in November 1999.
- Establishing organisations for GCC doctors and registering them in the GCC States, such as the Society of Orthopedists in Bahrain, the Society of Cosmetologists in the United Arab Emirates, and the Society of Doctors of Nose, Ear, and Throat in Bahrain, and the Society of Ophthalmologists (Saudi Arabia).
- A permanent technical committee made up of representatives from the GCC States’ food regulatory agencies is known as the “Food Safety Committee.” The committee guarantees the validity, safety, and quality of consumer foodstuffs and that all foodstuffs imported into the GCC States comply with the necessary health certificates, GCC standards, and safety and quality requirements.