Italian Minister of Health visits WHO/Europe

Professor Renato Balduzzi visited WHO/Europe on 7 May 2012 to discuss future collaboration on migration and health, the social determinants of health and other issues with Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

Italy has a long history of supporting WHO in research, hosting 26 WHO collaborating centres, as well as WHO/Europe’s Venice office.

Migrant health

Migrants from North Africa often come to the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Linosa. In 2011, for example, about 50 000 people arrived on Lampedusa and other Sicilian islands: mostly economic migrants from North Africa but also many migrants and refugees from sub-Saharan countries.

Following the emergency generated by the influx, Italy launched a project in partnership with WHO/Europe to support public health preparedness in southern European countries for the possible arrival of large numbers of displaced people from North Africa. The project will have two phases. The first will focus on southern Mediterranean countries in the WHO European Region; the second, medium-to-long-term phase aims to spread best practices in public health and migrant health more widely in Europe.

During his visit, the Minister expressed the Ministry’s its wish to establish an operations and research centre on migration, and requested WHO support.

WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development, Venice

During their meeting, the Minister and the Regional Director devoted particular attention to the work of the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development in Venice. the collaboration between the Ministry of Health, the Veneto Region and WHO makes its success possible. Ms Jakab explained the vital importance of the unique support that the Office provides to Member States on issues relating to the social determinants of health. This support is crucial to the development of Health 2020, Europe’s new health policy framework.