The WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development (Venice Office) has inaugurated its new premises


Many people attended the inauguration of the new premises of the WHO Venice Office, which took place on 19 January in the magnificent location of the Ss Giovanni e Paolo Hospital, Venice, Italy, thanks to fruitful collaboration between the Veneto Region and the ULSS3 Serenissima.

The event provided an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on the cornerstones that inspired the foundation of a WHO Office in Venice and on its challenges – also thanks to the participation of the major international, national and local authorities that embraced the theme of investment for health and well-being, including its implications, the fundamental importance of working on the topic to address the health needs of the population today, and reflecting the framework of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Furthermore, and last but not least, it was an occasion for the considerable number of people involved during the past 13 years to meet and discuss once again.

“I am particularly proud to congratulate with the WHO Venice Office for choosing this beautiful location”, stated Dr Giuseppe Dal Ben, General Director of ULSS Serenissima, “because I think this is the natual home for an institution like the World Health Organization. Its historical path makes Venice and the Veneto Region at the forefront for investment in health policies and well-being, which is the current mandate of the Office.”

The WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development was founded in 2003 resulting from an agreement signed by WHO Regional Office for Europe, the Ministry of Health and the Veneto Region, and since then it has been located in Venice. Cooperation between the WHO Venice Office and the Veneto Region is very broad; for example, the Venice Office supports the Veneto Region with the production of regional and local plans for health inequity prevention, making sure these plans incorporate the equity lens in every policy, reflecting the current mandate of the Office.

The Venice Office’s contribution also extends beyond the Veneto Region. Over the 13 years, the Venice Office has also played an important role in supporting the Italian Ministry of Health in some projects, as highlighted by Dr Maria Grazia Pompa of the Directorate-General for Communication and European and International Relation of the Ministry of Health. Moreover, the Office holds the secretariat of Regions for Health Network (RHN) and the small countries initiative, which was represented at the inauguration event by the Honourable Minister of Health from the Republic of San Marino, who is the co-leader for the small countries initiative, along with Dr Franco Santi.

“WHO brought together high-level representatives and experts from three sectors – health, social affairs and education,” said Dr Piroska Ostlin, Director of the Division of Policy and Governance for Health and Well-being, “establishing a platform to address health inequalities as health, and health outcomes are linked to actions in all aspects of our lives, and the Venice Office will also have a significant role in this platform.”

Dr Christoph Hamelmann, the new Head of the Venice Office since 2016, concluded that “the WHO Venice Office was founded to be a driver of a change ... and today it is more needed than ever. And given our strong partnership and excellent network with governments, we can continue and further increase our impact on health and well-being and a more sustainable development.”