WHO and European Committee of the Regions join forces to improve European dialogue on health policy

European Committee of the Regions

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Karl-Heinz Lambertz, First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions, signed a memorandum of understanding on 21 November 2016

The European Committee of the Regions and WHO/Europe signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), pledging to combine their efforts in several key areas of public health. The agreement was signed by Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Karl-Heinz Lambertz, First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions and President of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community in Belgium, on 21 November 2016.

"The signing of this memorandum of understanding marks the consolidation of a true partnership. We must seize the opportunity to harness the momentum of Health 2020 and the Agenda for Sustainable Development. Regions are uniquely positioned and mandated to work across sectors, responding to people’s needs. This leadership on health, from local to global, will ensure we follow a common approach,” said Dr Jakab.

The MoU builds on years of collaboration between the organizations, which have contributed to fostering local involvement in health topics, notably through the Healthy Cities Project and the Regions for Health Network.

"Ask Europeans what the key ingredients for a happy life are and the #1 answer is always health … What does it mean to local and regional authorities? We can do our utmost to shape policies and promote practices that are conducive to healthy living and that provide resilient, cost-effective and accessible cure and care services,” said Mr Lambertz at the signing ceremony.

Priority areas covered by the new agreement include:

  • investing in health through a life-course approach and by empowering people;
  • tackling the challenges of noncommunicable and communicable diseases;
  • strengthening people-centred health systems, public health capacity, and emergency preparedness, surveillance and response; and
  • creating resilient communities and supportive environments.

The MoU and its accompanying action plan bring the collaboration between the 2 organizations in line with the goals and targets set out in Health 2020, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Commission for Natural Resources’ annual work programmes of the Committee of the Regions.