Regional Director: WHO/Europe and European Union are “natural partners”

Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, spoke of the “common interests that underpin the necessity and opportunity of a shared strategic partnership for health between the European Union and WHO/Europe” at the Meeting of Chief Medical Officers of the European Union, in Liège, Belgium, on 16 November 2010. She noted that mutual health values, as well as geographical factors promote this partnership.

WHO/Europe recently agreed on a “shared vision for joint health action” with the European Commission, which identifies six initiatives based on common ground:

  1. one health security system to protect Europe;
  2. one health information system to inform Europe;
  3. sharing and exploiting good practice and innovations ;
  4. exchanging information and advocating policies to tackle health inequalities, also for future generations;
  5. informing and facilitating efforts to invest in health to mitigate effects of economic crisis; and
  6. strengthening in-country cooperation through joint advocacy, information exchange and health assessments.

Ms Jakab also explained that the European Union’s global health strategy explicitly recognizes the importance of a stronger leadership role for WHO in setting norms and providing guidance to improve global health. To strengthen this role, the Regional Director seeks to establish a high-level forum of government officials to support the development of WHO’s health policies and strategies, including Health 2020, and the European study on health determinants and the health divide.