Dutch delegation visits WHO/Europe to discuss opportunities for continued collaboration

On 5 December 2017, a delegation from the Netherlands visited WHO/Europe in Copenhagen, Denmark, to meet with WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab. Together they discussed collaboration on the 22nd International AIDS Conference, set to take place in Amsterdam in July 2018. The visit also included initial discussions about a new partnership agreement between WHO/Europe and the Netherlands.

The Dutch delegation comprised Mr Herbert Barnard, Director of International Affairs and member of the WHO Executive Board, and Dr Pieter de Coninck, Senior Advisor (both from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport); Mr Lambert Grijns, Director of Social Development and Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights & HIV/AIDS; and Ms Monique Middelhoff, Senior Advisor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Working together to step up political will to tackle HIV/AIDS

The visit opened with a meeting focused on the International AIDS Conference, which is expected to bring 15 000 participants to Amsterdam next summer. Participants will include politicians, scientists, royalty, celebrities, journalists and members of civil society.

The Dutch delegation and Dr Jakab agreed that the Conference will provide an excellent platform to bring countries together on this topic, and an important opportunity to ensure that HIV/AIDS remains high on the agenda of policy-makers. They discussed different activities for the Conference that will guarantee robust political debate. The Dutch delegation explained that the Government is strongly engaged in preparations for the Conference and eager to support.

Dr Masoud Dara, Programme Manager of Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis at WHO/Europe, also reviewed key issues and best practices in public health interventions related to HIV. He mentioned the upcoming call for good practices to implement the Action plan for the health sector response to HIV in the WHO European Region. The group suggested linking good practices to the political segment of the Conference.

Further discussions of the political segment of the Conference took place during a bilateral meeting with Dr Jakab, who confirmed her support for WHO/Europe’s involvement. She underlined the importance of stepping up political will to tackle HIV, given that HIV prevalence is rising in the Region. She also highlighted the need to reach across sectors to engage with ministers of finance, justice, internal affairs and others, depending on the country.

Planning for a new partnership agreement

In the afternoon, the Dutch delegation met with WHO/Europe’s executive management directors to open discussions on a new partnership agreement between WHO/Europe and the Netherlands for 2019–2022.

The group touched on key health topics of particular interest for the Netherlands, taking into account the new coalition agreement in the Netherlands and the WHO General Programme of Work for 2019–2023. The Netherlands aims at having an outline of the new agreement available for first discussions by spring 2018.

This session concluded a fruitful visit focused on discussing and exploring opportunities for further collaboration in the coming years.