[Executive] President, Regional Director, Colleagues
I speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro* and Albania*, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
The EU and its Member States and welcome the European Programme of work and thank the Regional Director for the broad consultation. We appreciate the weight given to COVID-19 pandemic response and to increasing our Region’s preparedness for future cross-border events.
We commend the alignment of the EPW with the three pillars of the GPW13, the commitment to the achievement of the SDGs and the need to continue addressing determinants of health and health inequalities, in order to leave no one behind.
The EPW rightly observes the pandemic has had an impact on all parts of our societies and thus it has put, in an unprecedented way, health at the center of public debate.
This provides unique momentum to advocate for investment in health and wellbeing, across sectors and beyond the present emergency. Countries will need a solid rational to do so.
Strong health systems with an adequate workforce are now in the middle of the pandemic more than ever before needed in the protection and promotion of health of our citizens. Member States will in the coming months and years come to the Regional Office with questions on what, how and in which order they should do to strengthen their health systems and essential health functions, including the capacity to detect and prevent health emergencies and respond to them.
Commitment to universal health coverage ensuring patient-centred health services and guaranteeing continuity of essential health services, in particular vaccinations and mental health, with special emphasis to the needs of the most vulnerable, continues to be essential, while ensuring social protection from catastrophic health expenditure.
The EPW recognizes that health services are in communities provided also by other actors, including by social services. As these services are in many countries governed by other sectors than health, a strong legal framework is essential to ensure the quality and integration of health services.
World is increasingly interdependent. We therefore give our strong support to the emphasis of the EPW on increased collaboration with relevant European actors and on strengthening the voice of the health sector in Europe.
The EU and its Member States welcome the programmatic nature of the EPW instead of a list of activities, the choice of flagship priorities, and the inclusion of AMR, and patient safety, and the importance given to sexual and reproductive health and rights, in accordance with the 2017 EU Consensus for Development.
The alignment with the GPW reporting will prevent any increase of reporting burden for Member States.
At the same time, we note that the new approach will influence the way governing bodies will have to assess the performance of the Regional Office, which requires further discussion.
The 53 Member States of the WHO European Region have now a one-time opportunity to strengthen multisectorality and a Whole of Society approach for health. Let us do so by promoting the recognition of health as a key driver for economic recovery, societal resilience and environmental sustainability.
The EU and its Member States will continue the constructive collaboration with and the support to the Regional Office.
The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.