WHO/Europe opens new page in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Health


A team headed by Dr Hans Kluge, Director of WHO/Europe's Division of Health Systems and Public Health, visited Greece on 12–13 January 2016 to start a new initiative entitled "Strengthening capacity for universal coverage" (SCUC), which aims to support the medium-term reform priorities of the health sector. The team met with Minister of Health, Dr Andreas Xanthos; Secretary-General for Public Health, Dr Giannis Baskozos; Chief of the Minister's Cabinet, Mr Panos Papadopoulos; and the Director of European and International Health Policy, Mrs Sofia Paraschou-Georgoudi.

The six-month initiative will follow 3 reform axes:

  • enhancing universal access to quality care
  • improving transparency, inclusiveness and modernization of health governance
  • improving financial sustainability of the health system.

SCUC will support activities related to the creation of the necessary framework for:

  • scaling up the primary health care network
  • rationalizing diagnostics
  • creating a strategic intelligence and health technology assessment centre
  • building capacity for rationalized purchasing of health services
  • initiating and sustaining the policy dialogue on health policies, strategies and plans.

WHO's commitment to universal health coverage

"We are glad to be here for the opening of a new page in our collaboration, and we would be happy to provide the necessary support to the ambitious reform process initiated by the Ministry that aims at universal health coverage and people centredness," said Dr Kluge during the meeting in which he also committed to extended involvement of WHO at all 3 levels.  

"Our health sector is facing a difficult situation, related to the disorganization of public services and insufficiently addressed issues associated with coverage of the uninsured," Dr Xanthos mentioned during the discourse. He added, "Our priority actions are currently oriented towards the stabilization of the health system and improving social coherence, and we are open to learn from good practices promoted by WHO."

The parties agreed to establish efficient coordination and communication mechanisms on both sides, and to proceed immediately with detailed planning and implementation of agreed activities. In parallel, joint efforts will be made to identify longer-term priorities for collaboration in support of the health reform plan.

About SCUC

The SCUC action is carried out with funding by the European Union through a grant agreement between the European Commission and WHO/Europe. The general objective of the action is to contribute to improving health and health equity in Greece, especially of the most vulnerable in the crisis-stricken population, by helping the Greek authorities to move towards universal coverage and to strengthen the effectiveness, efficiency and resilience of their health system.