Second meeting of the small countries initiative in Andorra: implementing the life-course approach vision

Government of Andorra

In her keynote speech Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab stated that small countries are ideal for designing and testing innovative health policies.

Delegates from Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro and San Marino gathered in Andorra on 2 and 3 July for the second high-level ministerial meeting of the eight small countries to confirm their commitment to implementing the Health 2020 vision in countries with populations of less than 1 million people.

The meeting, organized by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and hosted by the Government of Andorra, was attended by the WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab and ministerial delegations of the eight countries. The delegates discussed what has already been done and what is still to be done to align their policies to the WHO framework of Health 2020 and to ensure that the life-course approach is a priority in decision- and policy-making.

Speakers from the eight countries and WHO technical experts discussed progress and best practices in investing in health through a life-course approach, strengthening people-centred health systems and creating resilient communities and supportive environments. Health inequalities in Europe were discussed, with a review of promising practices to reduce the "health divide" in the eight countries.

"Countries with small populations have a social and cultural cohesion that makes it easier to design and test innovative policies that can be translated in larger and more complex countries", said Dr Jakab in her keynote speech. The Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Employment of Andorra, Maria Rosa Ferrer Obiols, stated: "Our country is implementing Health 2020 principles, beginning with a pilot plan for the management of diabetes and other chronic diseases, which are among our main concerns".

The meeting resulted in the Andorra Statement on the importance of a life-course approach to health promotion: "It is never too early to invest in health promotion and disease prevention, and it is never too late in peoples' lives to improve health and well-being and address the challenges of our ageing population".