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health, neutral political card for the Balkans in the EU: WHO

(ANSA) - TRIESTE, 18 APR - "Health can be used as a neutral political card for the Western Balkans' access to the EU: this would be a way to include them in EU decisions for access to drugs and avoid drug shortages within their countries." WHO Europe's Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Fabio Scano, said today in Trieste, where he attended a meeting sponsored by WHO Europe and the Central European Initiative to build a resilient pharmaceutical and health commodity system. "The drug shortage we are seeing in Europe," Scano said, "especially of generic drugs, is not only a health problem but is increasingly becoming a national security problem because there is a lack of basic medicines that can destabilize the system. With the Covid experience and access to vaccines, the Western Balkan countries, in particular, suffered because vaccines came so late". "For EU accession - he added - it would be desirable for the Western Balkans to have access to European decision-making bodies such as the European Medicines Agency and the Critical Medical Alliance, not just as observers. This step would stimulate the accession process in a way consistent with the acceleration underway and the new EU growth plan for the Balkan countries." (ANSA).