Policy dialogue on implementing 2030 Agenda held during Regional Director’s visit to Romania
“Ultimately, health is a political choice, and working together to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is also a choice,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, opening a policy dialogue on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, held at the Cotroceni Palace of the President of Romania in Bucharest, at the end of May.
Romania faces a number of significant health challenges – for example life expectancy at birth in Romania is 5 years below the European Union average; WHO projects that 23% of people in Romania could be smokers by 2025; and 23 000 people annually die prematurely from air pollution. Recognizing these challenges, Dr Jakab emphasized that “making the 2030 Agenda your own and making sure that no-one is left behind is key to success”. The Regional Director explained that this should be achieved by improving the conditions in which people live and targeting efforts towards the most vulnerable.
Dr Jakab also outlined some of the many positive steps that Romania is taking to improve health, such as implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; scaling up immunization efforts, particularly in light of widespread measles outbreaks; and the strong efforts to fight tuberculosis (TB), including legislative changes to allow the procurement of WHO prequalified drugs for multidrug and extensively drug-resistant TB.
In conclusion, Dr Jakab underlined that monitoring and evaluating health and policy effectiveness must be strengthened in all countries, in order to ensure accountability in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This point was reiterated by His Excellency Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, who explained in his address that the challenges of TB, hepatitis, vaccination coverage and unequal access to health services in Romania require clear policies, implementation and monitoring. The President ended by noting that “health should be a priority for each government”.
Romania is committed to implementing the health-related SDG targets for infectious diseases, vaccination and strengthening health systems towards universal health coverage. Subsequent discussions considered education for health professionals, the role of the whole of government and sectors in delivering the SDGs, and that further action is required. The policy dialogue established a good base for further work, and WHO is ready to support Romania in its efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda and ensure that no-one is left behind.
The official visit on 30–31 May 2018 also provided an opportunity for Dr Jakab to discuss health issues with Mr Viorel Stefan, Vice-Prime Minister, and Dr Sorina Pintea, Minister of Health. They both thanked the Regional Director for her support, and underlined the importance of partnering with WHO to achieve health gains in Romania.
Regional Director made Doctor Honoris Causa
Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab was made Doctor Honoris Causa of the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy at a ceremony during the visit. Receiving the honorary doctorate from Professor Ioanel Sinescu, Rector, and the University Board, Dr Jakab praised the work of the University in providing high quality medical education and standing at the forefront of medical research in Romania.