Small countries day

17 April 2015, Copenhagen, Denmark

The idea of a project to bring together Member States in the WHO European Region with fewer than 1 million inhabitants was initially discussed in 2013 at an informal meeting in Turkey, during the 63rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe. WHO/Europe held the first high-level meeting of small countries in July 2014, which was hosted by San Marino and aimed to discuss how the countries could advance the implementation of Health 2020.

The eight countries participating in the project are Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro and San Marino. San Marino is co-leading the initiative with WHO/Europe's European Office for Investment for Health and Development, Venice, Italy.

These countries' commitment to Health 2020 implementation led to the formulation of the San Marino Manifesto and to an agreement to work on four tasks:

  • production of a document setting out how to align national health policies to Health 2020;
  • development of joint capacity-building events and structures between WHO/Europe and participants in the small countries project to promote health and reduce health inequities;
  • creation of a supportive environment for Health 2020 through better engagement of the media as an implementation partner;
  • creation of a platform for sharing experiences and mutual learning about Health 2020 implementation.

The small countries project gained additional momentum at the 64th session of the Regional Committee: this unified group of countries was cited many times as an excellent example of a mechanism for exchanging best practices and a vehicle to catalyse further action to improve population health and reduce health inequities.
The small countries day will address how WHO/Europe can best support the implementation of this initiative, using the countries as live policy and implementation sites for Health 2020, and investigating how the findings from the project could be used to boost Health 2020 implementation in larger countries. Its objectives are:

  • to inform all staff about the small countries project, what it intends to achieve and its main activities;
  • to improve the quality of WHO/Europe's work in the eight countries through coordinated and joint efforts;
  • to review achievements in these countries, within and outside the small countries project: setting targets, measuring the effectiveness of delivery of country programmes and assessing their relevance;
  • to promote knowledge-building and resource-sharing acros divisions and WHO offices at the global, regional and country levels to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of WHO's work in line with the Health 2020 policy framework;
  • to facilitate the exchange of experience and best practices related to the countries among technical programmes;
  • to promote collaboration between Member States belonging to the small countries project.

WHO/Europe's second high-level meeting of small countries will be hosted by Andorra and take place on 2–3 July 2015.