Regional Director introduces Health 2020 during visit to Poland

National Institute of Public Health/J. Jaworski

Poland’s public health community attends a presentation on improving health in Poland by Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe

On 3 June 2013, Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, met ministers, members of parliament, members of the Polish Academy of Sciences, public health experts and journalists to present WHO findings and recommendations on how to improve health in Poland.

“Good health is essential for economic and social development,” commented Zsuzsanna Jakab at the conference held in Warsaw. In addition to the social and human rights aspects of health, Ms Jakab stressed the intertwined nature of health and economics. “The health sector is one of the largest economic sectors in every middle- and high-income country. It is a major employer, important landowner, builder and consumer.”

Despite improvements in health indicators, the Regional Director also noted that European countries face significant challenges to their health systems, with growing inequities evident within and between countries. Since noncommunicable diseases including cardiovascular disorders, cancers and traumatic injuries are the leading causes of death in Poland, Ms Jakab called for greater focus on prevention.

During subsequent discussions there was general consensus that sound strategic planning is necessary to address these issues. Both Poland’s strategic health planning and WHO’s Health 2020 policy were cited as excellent examples of policy frameworks that could be used if there were sufficient political will to implement them.

The conference presented an opportunity for representatives from all branches of the public health community to share strategies and build consensus. It was an important step in strategic health planning in Poland, supported by WHO.