European Countries Commit to Accelerate Action to Protect People from Health Emergencies Together

On 12-14 February 2019, more than 150 European delegates and ministers on health gathered in Istanbul, Turkey to find collective solutions to the increasingly demanding crises facing the WHO European Region, and to strengthen preparedness for emergencies of any type as a collective responsibility.

Sustained investment, mutual learning and support, and regular monitoring of progress – ministers of health and high-level delegates identified these as critical to scaling up health emergency preparedness and response in the WHO European Region.

“This meeting shows that we have unprecedented momentum to translate our political commitments into action,” said Dr Nedret Emiroglu, Director of Programme Management and Director of the Division of Health Emergencies and Communicable Diseases at WHO/Europe.

The European delegates charted a path to operationalize the action plan to improve public health preparedness and response in the WHO European Region, which Member States agreed upon at the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.

Health systems in Europe have shown that they can manage the importation of diseases like haemorrhagic fevers. European countries on the front line of migration are taking steps to provide access to health services for new arrivals. The collaboration between Turkey and WHO offers a particularly strong example of the provision of health services to refugees with similar standards as those for resident citizens.

However, the Region remains vulnerable to a wide range of hazards, such as outbreaks of measles and West Nile virus, antimicrobial resistance, infections from contaminated food and water, floods and earthquakes, conflicts and terrorist attacks.

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