Regional Director visits Israel to further strengthen collaboration

Ministry of Health of Israel

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, held discussions with Mr Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel, on 7 March 2017.

On 6–8 March 2017 Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, visited Israel for discussions on a wide range of important health topics. During her visit she met with a number of high-ranking officials, including Mr Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel; Rabbi Yakov Litzman, Minister of Health; Mr Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Director-General, Ministry of Health; Ms Einav Shimron, Deputy Director-General of Information and International Relations, Ministry of Health; Mr Zeev Elkin, Minister for Environmental Protection; and Mr Eli Alaluf, Chairman of the Health Committee of the Knesset, among others.

The Regional Director said she was honoured to be in Israel and expressed her thanks to the Minister of Health for the invitation to visit. She emphasized her respect and appreciation for the health system in Israel, which is built upon the values of equity, solidarity, responsiveness and transparency, and noted that addressing health inequalities has a prominent place on the policy agenda in Israel.

Discussions during her visit touched upon Israel’s contribution to the WHO European Region in terms of emergency preparedness and response, noncommunicable diseases, nutrition and food safety, as well as environment and health. The concept of universal health coverage was also discussed, with a focus on reducing out-of-pocket payments for health to below 15% of total spending on health.

WHO country office in Israel proposed

The Regional Director expressed her support for establishing a fully fledged, internationally led country office in Tel Aviv, as this would present a great opportunity to enhance WHO’s collaboration with Israel. Furthermore, Dr Jakab spoke with Israeli counterparts about the possibility of establishing new WHO collaborating centres in Israel, in addition to the two existing centres.

At their meetings, Israeli officials provided information on the country’s support to people who had become injured or ill as a result of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. The Regional Director praised these efforts, thanked the Israeli Government for its continuous support for WHO’s emergency operations and congratulated Israel on its leadership in this field, noting that Israeli Defence Force Field Hospital has received the highest possible recognition from Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. The Field Hospital has also offered to host a regional capacity-building workshop to share its expertise on emergency medical care.

Finally, the Regional Director asked the Chairman of the Health Committee of the Knesset to consider using the Health 2020 policy framework and Sustainable Development Agenda as a platform for the Committee’s work. She plans to attend a dedicated meeting of the Committee in 2018.