Moscow joins the WHO Regions for Health Network (RHN)


Dr Piroska Ӧstlin, Acting WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Mr Petr Biryukov, Deputy Mayor of Moscow

On 5 September 2019, Dr Piroska Ӧstlin, Acting WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Mr Petr Biryukov, Deputy Mayor of Moscow, signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of environment, health and socioeconomic determinants of health between WHO/Europe and the Government of Moscow.

Signed during Dr Ӧstlin’s official visit to Moscow, and at the III Climate Forum of Cities, the agreement presents unique opportunities for collaboration on environment and health between WHO/Europe and the Moscow Metropolitan area, within the framework of the WHO Regions for Health Network (RHN). The agreement works to reduce the burden of diseases caused by environmental factors for current and future generations and to promote strategies and equitable policies to improve health conditions and quality of life. The collaboration will facilitate addressing such “non-medical” health factors as environment, living conditions and lifestyle.

“I am happy to sign the agreement, and welcome Moscow as a new prominent member of the WHO Regions for Health Network. This Network is a platform for exchange of best practices of WHO policies at the subnational level of governance. I have no doubt that Moscow will be a fundamental player in the success of the Network and I already know that the members of the other 42 regions of the network, from 26 countries, are eager to learn from the city the many practices it can showcase,” said Dr Ӧstlin during the signing ceremony. Mr Biryukov meanwhile stressed the importance of joint efforts and use of global evidenced-base knowledge. Moscow has been following WHO recommendations for many years, and this agreement takes the existing collaboration to a new level.

RHN members and subnational stakeholders are particularly eager to learn about the best practices that Moscow has to showcase in the field of urban health. In recent years, Moscow has increasingly transformed itself into a “city for its people” – as Deputy Mayor Biryukov described it. Changes are visible in many aspects of the city, including: expanded pedestrian areas, more trees, larger parks, new bicycle lanes, and improved and integrated public transport systems. The Climate Forum itself – a testimony to the commitment of Moscow in the field of climate change, now with its third session – was held at Zaryadye Park, which is a brand-new landmark in Moscow. Right in the city centre, the area had been inaccessible for many years, but is now a place which reconnects man with nature, reuniting the separated urban space, and attracting individuals of all kinds.

Moscow’s choice of the RHN is not accidental in that the Network aligns countries and regions to WHO strategies and policies; boosts Health 2020 and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at all levels of governance, including the subnational level; strengthens collaboration with local and national actors, as well as international institutions; and contributes to the practical know-how of implementation of WHO approaches.

It is expected that thanks to this agreement, several activities will be organized, such as study visits in the area of environment and health, case study publications, and presentation of Moscow’s best practices in the most prominent public health fora in Europe.