New initiatives for children’s health showcased in Latvia on World Health Day


From left, Dr Aiga Rurane, Head of WHO Country Office in Latvia; Dr Guntis Belevics, Minister of Health of Latvia; and Dr Laila Meija, Assistant Professor of the Department of Sports and Nutrition, Riga Stradins University at press conference on World Health Day 2016.

To mark World Health Day 2016, the Ministry of Health of Latvia and the WHO Country Office organized a joint press conference, held on the Ministry premises and with participation from the Minister of Health, Dr Guntis Belevics. The main topic of the event was preventing diabetes, with a specific focus on children and youth in Latvia.

Dr Belevics informed the media about new initiatives to improve children's health in Latvia, which have been submitted by the Ministry of Health to the Parliament. These include bans on the marketing of energy drinks and new amendments in laws aimed towards limiting youth access to alcohol and tobacco. He also informed the press about ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Education and Science on the introduction of a third compulsory sports lesson in schools next year.

Dr Belevics explained that a major part of upcoming European Union funds for health in Latvia (expected to be available by end of 2016) will be devoted to health promotion activities. The funds will be distributed through the National Healthy Cities Network, which has been a growing phenomenon over the past few years and has expanded to include about 60% of municipalities. WHO materials translated into Latvian were also disseminated during the press conference.

Additionally, the Latvian Medical Association organized a conference on diabetes, aimed at doctors and covering topics such as epidemiology, treatment and cross-disciplinary aspects. World Health Day-related conferences are an annual event in the Latvian Medical Association's calendar and are always well-attended.