We are presenting to you the EMSA delegation summary of the last two days at the 68th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.

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DAY 3 – 19.09.18

1) First session

The day begins with member states statements on vaccination. Concerns about reaching the targets set for 2020 such as eradication of measles across Europe are shared, due to recent outbreaks of measles cases. Moreover, countries shared their best practices, future plans, and encouraged other members to take a more proactive stance on the matter.

EMSA has a joint statement with IFMSA on Vaccination, which was presented during the session.

At the end of the sessions, countries reconfirmed their commitment to European Vaccination Action Plan, and Nedret Emiroglu, WHO Programme Director thanked all members for their dedication and applauded the work being done.


2) Strategy on the health and well-being of men in the WHO European Region

Dr. Bente Mikkelsen: Director, Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health

First time that a governing body is considering on accepting an action plan on men’s health. Lowering premature death due to NCDs, achieving gender equality.

Dr. Isabel Yordi Aguirre: Programme Manager, Gender and Human Rights: Need for men’s health strategy, after accepting women’s strategy 2 years ago. To include gender and human right approaches in health planning is crucial. The gender approach is in the center of the SDG 2030 agenda. Men live 6 years less in average in Europe. The biggest difference in the region between womens highest life expectancy and lowest men’s life expectancy is 17 years and the difference is big (7 years) depending on the geographic location, so the inequities are big in the region. Too many young men are dying prematurely in the region. Biggest level of gender equality is in the region, but the progress has been slow in the past 10 years. The strategy is connected to SDG goals 3 (good health and well-being), 5 (gender equality) and 10 (reducing inequalities).

Roundtable discussion: Moderated by Dr. Piroska Östlin (Director, Policy and Governance for Health and Well-being). Members of the roundtable are Biddy O’Neill (National Project Lead Healthy Ireland, Department of Health, Ireland), Dr. Diogo Cruz (Deputy Director General of Health, Portugal) and Lars-Gunnar Engström (Senior Analyst, Swedish Gender Equality Agency, Sweden). The speakers shared best practices from their own countries and the work they do regarding gender equality and men’s health. Importance on changing “social norms”, social behaviours and the connection between masculinity and men’s mental health and ultimately men’s premature mortality was addressed.

Following the roundtable discussion, member states gave interventions to the strategic action plan. Most member states praised the initiative and emphasized the importance of addressing men’s health and well-being in the European region. Some countries (e.g. Belgium and Austria) shared some criticism toward the strategy, suggesting to introduce a gender-sensitive health action plan, instead of separate women’s and men’s health strategies. The different societal components and factors were mentioned that affects women’s and men’s health and that a different approach is needed when tackling these issues.

The resolution of the Strategy on the health and well-being of men in the European Region was adopted nemo contra.



During lunch, a side event on health system response for refugees in Turkey has taken place. Speakers of this side event included representatives from WHO Europe, WHO Turkey Country Office and Turkish Ministry of Health. Dr Nedret Emiroğlu briefly mentioned about the current problem in regard to refugee influx and their access to the Turkish health system. Turkish Deputy Minister of Health has touched base on how Turkish health system has been handling the crisis. Turkey has been providing universal coverage to Syrian refugees and WHO has been helping Turkey in achieving this.


4) Action plan to improve public health preparedness and response in the WHO European Region

Dr. Nedret Emiroglu, Director Emergencies and Communicable Diseases and Dr. Dorit Nitzan, Coordinator for Health Emergencies presented the Action Plan to improve public health preparedness and response in the Region.

The rationale for the action plan is to ensure high level political and financial commitment to address the full cycle of emergency management, including prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, supported by multisectoral engagement, whole-of-society approaches and effective partnerships. It envisions a WHO European Region where the impact of health emergencies is prevented and minimized.

It builds on 3 pillars in line with the global strategy:

1- Build and strengthen capacity including national policies

2- Operations and event management under the International Health Regulations

3- Measure progress and accountability


5) Advancing public health in the WHO European Region for sustainable development

Panel debate

Tau Kolvisto, Finland

Dr. Vesna Kerson Petric, Slovenia

Dr. Rsemary Kumwenda, UNDP

Dr. Dineke Zeegers Paget, EUPHA

Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Geneva


DAY 4 – 20.09.18

1) Decisions taken during WHA

The third day begins with the presentation of 16 resolutions that were adapted during World Health Assembly

Climate Change

Member states shared their opinions on the topic and committed to work towards a healthy environment that will improve the people’s health.

Access to Medicines and Vaccines

Member states supported the work done by WHO in the field and emphasized that the proposed roadmap will be useful to improve the health for all while they suggested to have a clearer timeline for the roadmap.

IFPMA read a statement that focuses on UHC and the roadmap’s role to achieve it. Partnerships are the core element to access to medicines and vaccines.

Knowledge Ecology International read a statement that focuses on financial aspect of the issue of access to medicines.

Dr Hans Kluge, Director WHO Euro, responded to the statements, emphasizing that the partnerships between member states and the NGOs are really important to achieve what we want to have.

Migrants and Refugee Health

Member states state that migration is a global issue we all have to focus on. The global action to be adopted in 2019 is supported by them. They reaffirmed the importance of the issue and committed to cooperate aligned with WHO and UN.

Dr Raniero Guerra ADG WHO/HQ responded the statements, emphasizing that research and data are really important to manage the migration situation and related health implications.


2) Accreditation of NSAs

EMSA has gained accreditation by the WHO European Office.


3) Countries at the centre: the strategic role of country offices in the WHO European Region

During the 3rd session of the day, the WHO Europe and member states discussed on the strategic role of country offices in the WHO European Region. The 13th General Program of Work has given a mandate to WHO to further strengthen the work of country offices. For this reason, the WHO Europe has visited a number of WHO country offices to do needs assessment and understand to what extent the capacity of country offices are used. WHO is further looking for better collaboration with ministries of health in member states to fulfil the commitment of ‘health for all’.