Обращение Ее Королевского Высочества кронпринцессы Дании Мэри, патронессы ЕРБ ВОЗ

Your Excellency Madam President, Madam Director-General, Madam Regional Director, honourable ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, 

This time last year the WHO Regional Committee for Europe met in Denmark and in my address, I spoke of the Millennium Development Goals and what had been achieved and the gaps that continue to persist in the first 15 years of this century. Later this month, the new global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be adopted in New York by the United Nations. We are now taking our first steps into the post 2015 era – where health is integral to reducing poverty and creating growth. 

Thank you for once again for inviting me to address the Regional Committee, now in its 65th session here in Vilnius, the beautiful capital of Lithuania.  

How equitably health is distributed in our Region is a measure of progress across all aspects of development – economic, social and environmental. Sound policies across the economic, environmental and social dimensions contribute directly and indirectly to improving health. The conditions in which people are born, grow and develop, live, work and age, including the equity of these conditions, have a fundamental impact on the health of a population and health services. 

Health and development are inextricably linked; better health is both an outcome of, and a prerequisite for reducing poverty. So in the context of the new framework for development, health will make a crucial contribution to progress across all goals and targets, just as health will benefit from the achievement of those goals and targets. 

Health 2020 has done much to align our objectives and, thanks to Health 2020, we are able to measure progress towards our goals. Health is a benchmark for sustainable development.

New technologies and breakthroughs in medical research present new opportunities, but perhaps the most exciting one is the evolution in our way of thinking about health. We are seeing a paradigm shift – towards a world where we create and maintain good health, rather than simply preventing and treating disease. Now this shift requires a deeper understanding of what is well-being. And how can culture and the resilience of our societies protect us from ill health? In short, what are – and how do we address – the root causes? And what does this mean for how we develop our health systems in order to meet higher expectations and new challenges? 

The meeting of the Regional Committee provides an ideal platform to look to the future and new ways of working and it's also a time to reflect on the year that has been. The main theme of the 65th Regional Committee session is intersectoral action – intersectoral action is a political choice; it's cooperation; it's shared responsibility and accountability. 

It starts with a political choice, but in reality we don't have a choice, because taking an intersectoral approach with the whole of government and the whole of society is the only way we can achieve fairness in health, end inequities and improve health and well-being. Intersectoral action basically holds us all accountable, because health is the responsibility of the whole of society. And what starts with political choice ends with people, working together and obtaining real health benefits.

So let's look at some examples. Intersectoral action is when the public health authorities identify a problem with growing numbers of overweight children, and schools improve the food available to pupils, restrictive provisions may be placed on unhealthy foods and policies put in place to curb aggressive marketing towards youth.

Intersectoral action is when governments, from national to local, work together to create towns and cities that support health – with parks that make exercise more easily accessible, roads where cycling is safe and public transport that reduces pollution and ensures cleaner air. 

Intersectoral action is where the armed forces ensure that every new recruit is immunized, it's where vets work with doctors to make our food safe and watch for emerging disease. Intersectoral action undoubtedly poses major challenges to accepted ways of working. It requires new and innovative partnerships and a new way of looking at how different sectors can benefit from working together. 

Shortly after the last Regional Committee, I visited Tajikistan together with Madam Regional Director. There we had the opportunity to meet frontline health-care workers immunizing children against our age-old adversaries – communicable diseases – and we also met with survivors of the 2010 poliomyelitis (polio) outbreak. It was heart breaking to see the devastating effects of a disease that can be prevented. Polio can be and, we all hope, soon will be a thing of the past.

Yet the confirmation, only days ago, of cases of polio in Ukraine, and the reappearance of polio in 2010 after a thirteen-year absence in Tajikistan unequivocally underline how essential it is to maintain high vaccination coverage. Over the past 50 years, vaccines have saved millions of lives and significantly reduced the burden on health systems and society. But, despite all this, immunity gaps continue to persist.

Fear of these diseases has been replaced, for some, by complacency and anxieties about vaccine safety, the latter often underpinned by misinformation. 

It has proven challenging in the European Region to interrupt endemic transmission of measles, and widespread outbreaks have continued through 2015. It is difficult to accept and terribly sad that this year we have seen the death of a child from diphtheria and four deaths from measles complications, when we have the means to prevent such diseases. 

It is of the utmost importance to maintain confidence in vaccination among the public and health-care workers, and improve their understanding of the benefits of vaccines and the risks of the diseases they prevent. The only way we can eliminate measles and rubella in our Region is through high population immunity and high-quality surveillance. While intensified efforts are being made by many countries, we all need to be reminded of our commitment to the goals outlined in the European Vaccine Action Plan and our commitment to immunization.

Through sustained political commitment and the implementation of the required strategies by all countries, we can eliminate these diseases in the WHO European Region. And I look forward to the day when we can celebrate at the Regional Committee the elimination of measles and rubella.

Another area of engagement for me is the health of women and girls, which is also at the centre of sustainable development. Improving their lives is the foundation for building healthy and prosperous families, economies, and societies. 

Despite significant progress in improving the health of women and girls, gender inequalities still persist and negatively impact health. 

Survey data from several countries in our Region indicate that 1 out of 5 women have been victims of domestic violence. Globally, we have seen too little progress in this area over the past 20 years. National and legal protection against violence has grown, yet they vary widely by region and country. And, where laws are strong, implementation and enforcement are often lagging. Social norms also play a large role and we know how slow they can be to change. However, there is encouraging evidence that norms are changing – particularly among women.

We must to do more to address this global epidemic, which is critical not only to individual health and well-being but also to economic participation and growth.

It will be interesting to hear your deliberations at the technical briefing on women's health today. I am committed to working with WHO to ensure that girls and women remain at the centre of development efforts. As patron of the next global Women Deliver Conference, to be held in Denmark in May of next year, I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm invitation to attend. 

The Women Deliver conference is an effective forum to share ideas and strategize on how to make the world a better place for women and girls, which in reality means a better world for all. And, as one of the first large international conferences after the United Nations' adoption of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Women Deliver in Denmark provides the perfect platform to accelerate implementation of that Agenda – and our common agenda of health. 

Thank you, and now I look forward to the Regional Director's report, which will, as always, give us insight, inspiration and motivation to address the agenda of the 65th Regional Committee and take one more step, together, towards a healthier future for all.