65th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe (Vilnius, Lithuania, 14–17 September 2015)
Vilnius, Lithuania, 14-17 September 2015 - Health ministers and high level representatives of the 53 Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region, partner organisations and civil society, took part in the sixty-fifth session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe. Civil Society organisations - including EPHA - have issued several statements highlighting the importance of a better and more inclusive healthcare framework for Europe, access to skilled health workers providing essential health services, as well as the potential negative health impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Participants of the 65th WHO Europe Regional Committee meeting called for continued involvement and support from WHO to respond adequately to the public health implications of large influxes of people by conducting additional assessments in countries and by providing policy advice on contingency planning, training of health personnel and delivery of supplies. It was decided that a high-level WHO conference would be organised as soon as possible to agree on a common public health approach to large-scale migration in the Region.
Overview about the 65th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, Vilnius, Lithuania, 14–17 September 2015
Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have issued several statements linked to health related issued discussed by the WHO Europe Regional Committee.
Health 2020 as adopted by all European Member States is vital for improving the health status of European citizens, by recognising the utmost importance of social determinants of health and promoting intersectoral cooperation. Member States need to make an effort in involving the different sectors of society in health decisions and to focus their attention on making policies that give meaning to a Health in All Policies approach. However, we believe that there is still a long way to go for this to happen.
Environmental determinants of health, access to food, good habitation conditions and more efficient and greener cities must be priorities of the Regional Office and Member States. Investment in active advocacy towards a healthier planet, aligned with the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, and building health systems with a sustainable health workforce that is ready to address the needs that might arise from climate change consequences are required. European states must take a strong stance in CoP21, defining effective agreements that will improve the stated needs.
This statement was delivered on behalf of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), World Federation of Occupational Therapists, European Public Health Alliance, Standing Committee of European Doctors, Medicus Mundi International, European civil society coalition ‘Health workers for all and all for health workers’, World Organisation of Family Doctors Region Europe, International Alliance of Patients Organisations and European Forum for Primary Care.
FULL STATEMENT on Agenda Point 5a) Promoting Intersectoral and Interagency Action for Health and Well-Being in the WHO European Region (PDF)
The ‘solution’ to the global Human Resources for Health (HRH) crisis, including brain drain risks, relies to a great extent on promoting and achieving better policy coherence between health and migration/mobility, development, employment, economic and trade policies. These need to aim at improving population health, lead to the better planning, training, recruiting and retention of adequate numbers of health professionals inside and outside Europe.
The WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel is the main, international tool available to achieve this, but as a voluntary instrument it requires reinforcement at national and regional levels to really make a long-term impact. Moreover, it relies on effective, orchestrated collaboration between actors at different levels and representing diverse political, civil society and business interests.
The Statement was delivered on behalf of of Medicus Mundi International, the European Public Health Alliance and the European civil society coalition “Health workers for all and all for health workers”.
FULL STATEMENT on session ‘Promoting intersectoral and interagency action for health and well-being in the WHO European Region, with special focus on social determinants and health, and health literacy: links and coherence between health, education and social policy and health in sustainable development and foreign policy’ (PDF)
Firstly, the current Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations can bring several potential negative effects to health systems, such as impairment of access to medicines/assistive technologies, adequate distribution and education of health workforce, lesser tobacco control and food and alcohol labelling, extensions of intellectual properties and consequently an increase in technology/medicine prices and potential overruling of governments’ decisions due to an Investor State Dispute Settlement. Based on this, we call upon Member States to open communication channels with their Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Members of the European Parliament about this agreement, so that trade agreements will not put European health at risk.
Also, we recognise the right of everybody to have access to skilled health workers providing essential health services, which means Member States must ensure better policy coherence between health and migration/mobility, development, employment and economic policies. There is therefore, a need to plan, educate, recruit and retain adequate numbers of health professionals inside and outside Europe. Also, the implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel is key to ensure that international moral responsibility and ethics applies to the administration of health workforce.
This statement is delivered on behalf of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, European Public Health Alliance, Medicus Mundi International, the European civil society coalition ‘Health workers for all and all for health workers’, World Federation of Occupational Therapists, World Organisation of Family Doctors region Europe, International Alliance of Patients Organisations, International Confederation of Midwives, European Midwives Association, International Council of Nurses.
FULL STATEMENT on Agenda point 5c) Priorities for health systems strengthening in the WHO European Region 2015–2020: walking the talk on people centredness (PDF)
Trade and Public Health: why you should care! IFMSA and EPHA Policy Brief for the 65th RC of the WHO EURO (PDF)
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