Latvian Minister of Health visits WHO/Europe to discuss health priorities

The new Minister of Health of Latvia, Mr Didzis Gavars, and the State Secretary, Mr Rinalds Muciņš, held discussions with the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, and key WHO experts about the collaboration between WHO and Latvia. The discussion focused on Latvia’s public health priorities, the implementation of the biennial collaborative agreement (BCA) for 2010–2011, the country’s 2011 national AIDS programme and new strategies for health financing, as well as the Regional Director’s new vision and plans for strengthened collaboration with the European Union and other key actors in public health

In May 2010, WHO/Europe and the Latvian Government signed the BCA for 2010–2011, outlining their commitments on health priorities, funding and implementation. Key priorities include strengthening health policy and the health system, promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing risk factors, and preventing avoidable mortality and disability.

The Latvian Government is committed to equitable, high-quality and accessible health services for all its population. The global financial crisis, however, necessitated heavy budget cuts in the health sector in 2009. To minimize the economic impact on health services, Latvia now focuses on strengthening primary care, specialist outpatient services and public health activities, while reducing hospital infrastructure and optimizing health institution functions through mergers.