Alcohol reduction, human resources for health and drug policy on the agenda as Dr Östlin meets Czech Prime Minister and V4 health ministers

Ministry of Health, Czechia

Dr Piroska Östlin, WHO/Europe’s Regional Director ad interim, met with the Prime Minister of Czechia, Andrej Babiš, and Minister of Health, Adam Vojtěch in Prague to discuss cooperation on policies to reduce harmful use of alcohol. During the visit, Dr Östlin also attended the ministerial meeting of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, discussing human resources for health, drug policy and future cooperation.

Czechia has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world and more than 6000 people are estimated to die from alcohol-related deaths every year. WHO is providing sustained policy and evidence-based support to the Czech government in its efforts to increase alcohol taxation, as well as introduce restrictions on advertising and marketing, among other interventions.

At the ministerial meeting of the V4 countries (Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), cooperation with WHO/Europe in the field of health was positively reviewed, with ministers expressing their strong interest in continuing to work with WHO.

High-level delegations discussed common strategies and collaboration on pharmaceuticals and the shared challenges around the health workforce.

Dr Östlin thanked Mr Vojtěch for the discussions and underlined WHO’s commitment to advancing health issues through collaboration with the V4 group. She also added that WHO/Europe looks forward to the V4 meeting on environment and health in the spring of 2020, which will include a planning meeting between the 4 Member States and WHO.

This meeting marks the third time that WHO and the V4 have met to discuss collaboration on health matters, and it comes shortly after WHO provided technical contributions in September and October following a request by the Czech Presidency. These were on human resources for health at a meeting in September and on the international classification of diseases at another in October.

Cooperation on human resources for health includes the WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care, in Almaty. This collaboration has facilitated important work on the role of nurses in strengthening primary care and is particularly important for activities during the upcoming Year of the Nurse and Midwife in 2020.

Collaboration with regions and countries is a vital part of WHO/Europe’s work, ensuring that its global programme of work (GPW13) is delivered with a commitment to health for all.

WHO/Europe also works with other subregional organizations and frameworks, including the South-Eastern Europe Health Network, the Baltic Policy Dialogue and the Small Countries Initiative, to identify areas of commonality and share knowledge on implementing health policies.