Vulnerability and health: WHO opens new collaborating centre in Hungary


From left: Zsofia Pusztai and Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO/Europe; Róza Ádány, University of Debrecen; and Piroska Ostlin, WHO/Europe, with the designation letter for the WHO Collaborating Centre on Vulnerability and Health

WHO has designated the Department of Preventive Medicine in the Faculty of Public Health, at the University of Debrecen, Hungary, as a WHO Collaborating Centre on Vulnerability and Health.

Life expectancy among marginalized Roma communities is considerably lower than the average for the WHO European Region. The Centre will promote awareness, political commitment and action on the adverse social conditions (including poverty and social exclusion) that make certain groups (such as Roma and other ethnic minorities) vulnerable to ill health. This work is central to Health 2020, the new European health policy currently being developed.

Speaking at the opening of the Centre today, Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, commented, “Through this designation, WHO recognizes the Department’s scientific excellence and long-standing contribution to the vulnerability and health field, particularly relating to Roma health, through a number of research projects and wide international collaboration.”

Specifically, WHO’s work with the collaborating centre will include:

  • developing equitable and comparable research on Roma health;
  • collecting evidence and disseminating information related to vulnerable groups; and 
  • developing materials and organizing events for policy-makers to build capacity in inclusive research methods and knowledge of existing research on Roma health, including the impact of housing policies.

Professor Róza Ádány, of the University of Debrecen, will lead the Collaborating Centre. The designation lasts for four years and can be renewed.

The University of Debrecen is the second WHO collaborating centre in Hungary. The National Institute of Pharmacy in Budapest was first designated the WHO Collaborating Centre for Drug Information and Quality Control in 1982.