WHO and the European Commission agree future common action in key areas
Brussels, 25 March 2011
Senior officials and technical experts from WHO and the European Commission (EC) met in Brussels on 24–25 March 2011 to outline and agree how the two partnering organizations will work more closely together in priority areas of shared interests. The meeting was opened by Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, who was accompanied by Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Luis Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa and Dr Mirta Roses Periago, Director of the Pan-American Health Organization, together with senior officials from other WHO regions. They were joined by officials and technical experts from WHO and the EC.
The senior officials of the two organizations agreed on strategic cooperation on health security, health innovation, health systems, health information, health inequalities and country collaboration. This cooperation may take diverse forms – from exchange of information and views to joint advocacy work and implementation of activities. The senior officials also discussed other topics such as the Lisbon treaty, the reform of WHO, humanitarian aid and health aspects of the northern Africa crisis and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The discussions around the six core areas incorporated global as well as European and country-specific dimensions, and identified how both organizations can be mutually supportive and work more coherently.
Cooperation for health at global, regional and national levels
In parallel with the bilateral discussions between senior officials, several high-level meetings also took place between EC and WHO political leaders. The WHO Director-General Dr Chan and the three WHO regional directors met Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, and Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. This was in response to Member States’ requests that WHO takes responsibility for global health governance. The European Union recognizes this role for WHO, in line with the European Union’s own policy of acting as a major stakeholder on global health issues.
“WHO sees the EU as a strategic partner rather than as a donor”, said Dr Chan. “Many parts of the world look at the work done in Europe for inspiration and an example to follow. WHO acts as one organization at all levels – global, regional and in-country; we are therefore willing and committed to work with all EU institutions in their efforts to improve health at all these levels. Continuous policy dialogue and the exchange of information, knowledge and ideas constitute a valuable, mutually beneficial interaction that brings our two organizations closer”.
Joining forces to achieve shared goals
“This cooperation should enable us to coordinate and enhance our work in the future, avoiding duplications and overlaps. Both of our organizations support countries in their efforts to bring higher health gains with more efficiency” said Ms Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “When the European Commission and WHO work together to implement their shared long-term vision for health, it is beneficial for all. In fact, countries have clearly requested WHO to move its partnership with the European Union to a strategic level, in view of the increasing complexity of health challenges both in Europe and globally.”
An administrative agreement between the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and WHO/Europe was also signed in Brussels, and the EC and WHO finalized road maps for implementing the commitments they had made in a joint declaration, “A shared vision for joint action”, that was signed at the WHO Regional Committee for Europe’s session in Moscow in September 2010.
For more information, please contact:
For technical information:
Executive Manager, Strategic Partnerships
WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen
For media information:
WHO Office to the European Union, Brussels
Tel.: +322 506 4658
Viv Taylor Gee
WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen
Tel.: +45 3917 12 31
Mobile: + 45 22 72 36 91