Minister of Health of Latvia visits WHO/Europe

Guntis Belēvičs, Minister of Health of Latvia met Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe on 7 January 2015

Mr Guntis Belēvičs, the new Latvian Minister of Health, visited WHO/Europe on 7 January 2015.

His discussions with Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, focused on Latvia’s position as President of the Council of the European Union until 30 June 2015. Mr Belēvičs outlined the Presidency’s health priorities, which particularly include addressing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, developing a policy on child nutrition, promoting healthy lifestyles for children in schools, supporting patient-centred health care, reducing harmful alcohol use and coordinating e-health initiatives.

Ms Jakab and Mr Belēvičs held a detailed discussion on where WHO/Europe could support the Presidency’s work, as well as areas of particular interest areas to the Minister: health financing, including out-of-pocket payments, and pharmaceuticals.

Ms Jakab summarized the aims of the European policy for health and well-being, Health 2020: to improve health outcomes, reduce inequities in health and ensure intersectoral collaboration. She congratulated Mr Belēvičs on the development of a public health strategy for Latvia from 2014 to 2020, which reflects Health 2020’s objectives, and underlined WHO’s commitment to supporting the country in implementing it.

Mr Belēvičs identified optimizing the health system as a national health priority, particularly introducing a hospital payment system based on diagnosis-related groups, reviewing medicine pricing and reducing waiting lists.

The visit gave Mr Belēvičs an opportunity to discuss with Ms Jakab and other WHO staff cooperation between Latvia and WHO/Europe through 2017, and WHO support to the Minister at the national level.