WHO/Europe contributes to health budget discussions in Latvia

WHO experts contributed to discussions 08 September 2010 at the Latvian parliament on the development of a public health strategy and the health budget. The global economic crisis has created budgetary challenges for many countries in the WHO European Region, including Latvia. Although budget cuts are often inevitable, the WHO experts in Latvia explained that cutting a government’s health budget often puts a heavy burden on individuals. They must pay for health care and medicines out of their own pockets when they are sick. This pushes some into poverty, and can prevent others from seeking medical help, particularly those who are poor, elderly or chronically ill.

These findings were presented to 30 members of parliament, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and journalists during a meeting of the parliament committees on social welfare and labour, health and the budget.

During the event, WHO/Europe also recognized and applauded the steps being taken in Latvia to make best use of the health budget available, through a greater focus on efficiency, public accountability and the introduction of a social safety-net programme.