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IP/07/783

Brussels, 08 June 2007

WHO Director General Margaret Chan makes first visit to Commission to discuss enhanced collaboration on health

Dr Margaret Chan, the Director General of the World Health Organization, will visit the European Commission next Tuesday 12 June. Accompanied by WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Marc Danzon, Dr Chan will meet President Barroso, Commissioners Kyprianou and Potočnik, and Directors General for Health, External Relations, Development and Humanitarian Aid. Priority issues on the day's agenda include the health consequences of climate change, global health security, and improving health outcomes in Africa.

Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health, said “This is an important opportunity for the Commission to discuss strategic health priorities with WHO, and the actions we can take in partnership to improve health in the EU and the wider world. As the WHO's third biggest donor, the Commission is committed to improve this partnership. We aim to use this high-level meeting to find ways to enhance our collaboration to deliver positive outcomes for global health".

Climate change, health security and improving health outcomes in Africa

In this fifth high-level meeting between WHO and the Commission, Dr Chan, President Barroso and Commissioner Kyprianou will discuss the potentially devastating health consequences of climate change, as an urgent priority for new EC-WHO collaboration. Taking into account troubling recent trends in Europe such as the first locally-derived case of malaria in Corsica, the Commission will announce the development of a new EU policy communication on the health consequences of climate change, informed by work being done in WHO and other UN agencies.

On global health security, the WHO Director General will emphasise the imminent entry into force of the revised International Health Regulations on 15 June, which include new mechanisms to address public health emergencies such as pandemic flu. She will call on the Commission to help promote IHR implementation in the European Neighbourhood and low income countries. The Commission will emphasise its commitment to development aid to support and strengthen national health systems, reflecting country priorities including both communicable and non-communicable diseases.

With regard to research policy, Commissioner Potočnik will express a shared personal commitment with Dr Chan, to deliver health benefits in Africa - using the EU's 7th Framework Programme as a driver for health development.

He will announce a High Level meeting in early 2008, involving the Commission, WHO, African health and research ministries, and other stakeholders, on how best to harness EU research to deliver health benefits in the world's poorest countries. The Commission and WHO will also commit to increased collaboration in Africa, including working with the African Union on health workforce issues.

Other issues on the EC / WHO agenda

During the day's seven meetings, a diverse range of issues will be discussed, illustrating the breadth cooperation between WHO and the Commission. In addition to the issues listed above, other agenda items include, but are not limited to:

  • Effective implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
  • Health in wider Europe – EU enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy countries
  • Development of the new EU Health Strategy, e-health and links to WHO initiatives
  • EU health systems research and the 2008 WHO Euro Ministerial Conference
  • Health in African development policy including workforce migration
  • Accelerating progress towards the health Millennium Development Goals
  • Supporting the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership
  • Dealing with communicable disease outbreaks in emergency humanitarian aid context
  • Supporting humanitarian reform by strengthening response capacity in emergencies and crises

Background

The Commission has long-standing bilateral relations with WHO. Current collaboration is based on an exchange of letters concluded in 2000 which set up various cooperation mechanisms, including high level meetings such as these.

The Commission is the third largest extra-budgetary contributor to WHO, donating around €75m ($102m) in 2005-6[1]. The two organizations also collaborate closely in terms of technical assistance, including staff secondments and joint missions.
For more information, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_international/int_organisations/who_en.htm


[1] For most recent WHO figures on extra-budgetary contributions,
see: http://www.who.int/bfi/ExtraBud/acg060b.pdf.


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