Speech – National Centre for Public Health, Republic of Moldova

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe

24 November 2016, Chisinau, Republic of Moldova

Dear Minister, managers and health providers, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

We live in uncertain and demanding times. Last year brought many political and social challenges, globally and within the WHO European Region. These included global development inequities, poverty, civil unrest, migration, terrorism, complex emergencies and climate change with extreme weather events.

All had a profound impact on our work. We must rise to the public health demands flowing from these challenges and pursue our goal of better health: more equitable and sustainable. In responding to these challenges, we must change the way we work.

The strategies and action plans we now have in place are supported by a new global framework, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Health and well-being for all at all ages are at the centre of sustainable development; they are a determinant and an enabler of the SDGs, as well as an outcome. In our Region, the European policy for health and well-being Health 2020 is fully aligned with the SDGs.

A focus on universal health coverage and an emphasis on the interactions of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development are 2 central features of health in the new agenda. No one must be left behind. It is paramount that we put the strategic objectives and priorities of Health 2020 into practice, ultimately aiming to improve health for all and reduce health inequalities while improving leadership and participatory governance for health.

As in any other of our daily activities, we live and work at the interface of many areas. The social determinants of health can only be addressed through whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches. This entails acknowledging the complexity of health and social protection issues and the need for efforts beyond integrated service delivery within the health sector alone. It means adopting a health-in-all-policies approach and engaging with both stakeholders and nonstate actors.

The priority areas of Health 2020, and the related resolutions passed in September 2016 at the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, have been tackling mother and child health through a life-course approach and selected communicable diseases through immunization. They have also acknowledged the double burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and the growing public health threat of antimicrobial resistance by strengthening people-centred health systems; public health capacity; and preparedness, surveillance and response under the global health-security agenda.

Health is positioned as a major contributor to other SDGs; without health, many SDGs cannot be achieved. At the same time, health also benefits from progress towards the other SDGs. To achieve the SDG health targets, countries in the Region can capitalize on their work to implement the Health 2020 framework.

This is why it is critical to have health as a top priority on the agenda of decision-makers at all levels, starting with the national development strategy “Moldova 2020” and moving further down to the health facilities that are translating health policies to health services.

The health system reforms started in the Republic of Moldova over the years have had a positive impact, especially in terms of health systems strengthening. We see this impact in health financing – given the Global Fund and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization graduation in lower-middle-income countries like the Republic of Moldova – but also in the development of tobacco-control law, progress on noncommunicable diseases and the introduction of new vaccines, to mention just a few.

Often taking the lead to pilot health initiatives in the Region, the Republic of Moldova has had remarkable success in selected areas, including the validation of elimination of mother-to-child transmission of syphilis and the implementation of the human papillomavirus vaccine. It is encouraging to see that national frameworks draw upon the WHO global and regional policy papers developed with the contribution of Member States.

All of the achievements mentioned above would not have been possible without your personal and professional dedication to making positive change under complex global and regional socioeconomic circumstances. You are at the forefront of our work to improve the health and well-being of our people – you are the service providers delivering quality services to everyone.

I wish you all remarkable achievements in your professional careers and healthy generations to come.

Thank you!