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CEI-WHO/Europe joint meeting in Trieste

Building on the close cooperation in the area of health between the CEI and WHO Regional Office for Europe, a joint CEI-WHO high-level expert meeting was held on 28 September, in the framework of the Bulgarian CEI Presidency. Representatives of the CEI Ministries of Health and National Health institutes gathered in Trieste to discuss the strengthening of health systems to improve preparedness and quality of care, with special focus on primary health care.

In his opening remarks, the Director of the National Center for Public Health and Analysis prof. Plamen Dimitrov underlined the commitment of the Bulgarian Presidency, given the fact that the transnational character of the health issues requires a continued coordinated approach among CEI countries. Working closely with the WHO as a specialised UN agency in order to improve preparedness and resilience in health is therefore crucial.

The partnership between the CEI and the WHO developed over the past two years was outlined by CEI Secretary General Roberto Antonione, with the CEI-WHO Task Force in response to the COVID-19 established in 2020, the endorsement of the WHO “Roadmap for Health and Well-being in the Western Balkans” and the activities in the implementation of the roadmap among the main actionsHe also stressed the importance of tackling the consequences of the pandemic on mental health and youth, and drew attention to the fact that the war against Ukraine was putting pressure on the overall health system and should be addressed.

The Director of the WHO Europe Division of Country Support, Emergency Preparedness and Response (CSE) Gundo Weiler welcomed  the strong accent on health in the CEI agenda. The continuation of the political dialogue and multilateral cooperation on health issues was the way to go, and in this regard, institutional collaboration and multilateral relations were very important. The joint work towards Western Balkans was particularly acknowledged by him, as well as by the special envoy of WHO regional director Fabio Scano, also present at the event.

In the discussion, the representatives of the CEI Member States exchanged views, best practices and had the opportunity to share experience on the primary health care models with focus, in particular, on mental health and youth, following the presentation by the Head of the WHO European Center for Primary health care Melitta Jakab and the CEI-Executive Secretariat. Although country policies and strategies were quite varied and diverse, there was a shared opinion in the discussion that more innovative (and digital), as well as integrated models for primary health care, were needed; and that early education on sustainable development with health as one of its key elements, to be regarded as a blueprint for future healthy generations would be useful.

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