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EU, WHO extend strategic cooperation to deliver better health for all

by Haruna Gimba
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By Haruna Gimba

At the EU-WHO Strategic Dialogue on Health between the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, the European Commission (EU) and WHO agreed to enhance strategic cooperation in global health security and architecture.

They will also cooperate on the implementation of major initiatives, such as the new European Union’s Global Health Strategy launched this week, the European Health Union and the WHO priorities for the 2022-2026 period.

The partners will mutually reinforce their work across areas of common interest, as called by the EU Global Health Strategy, to further bolster a strong multilateral system with the WHO at its core, powered by a strong EU.

Addressing together the challenge of global health security

Many significant elements of global health security will be under discussion in the coming two years. These include the currently ongoing negotiations of a future pandemic accord and of amended International Health regulations, shaping a permanent pandemics platform, top leadership engagement in global health issues, and financing global health.

The EC and WHO will coordinate closely throughout these discussions to shape an effective multilateral system that considers the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and provides comprehensive health security for citizens across the world.

“Our citizens expect a step change in global health security, and the new EU Global Health Strategy is our contribution to this process. Combatting health threats effectively requires a strong multilateral governance with a more effective, accountable, and sustainably financed WHO at the center and where the EU has a seat at the table.

“Reinforced strategic cooperation and alignment between the Commission and the WHO will be essential to deliver better health for all in a changing world,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Other areas of cooperation include cross-border threats to health and digital health. To ensure mutual reinforcement across areas of common interest, both sides will review all current joint projects and actions by May 2023 and identify further areas of collaboration and specific projects to support.

Both parties will meet in June 2023 to take stock, define the lines of future joint work, and provide the political impetus as and when necessary.

“A healthier Europe is stronger and more prosperous Europe, and a stronger and more prosperous Europe is a stronger and more prosperous world. We look forward to scaling up our cooperation with the European Union in the years ahead for a healthier, safer and fairer world,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General at the launch of the Strategy in Brussels.

The new EU Global Health Strategy offers a framework for EU health policies leading up to 2030. It sets policy priorities and guiding principles to shape global health, and it identifies concrete lines of action.

It outlines what the Commission will do and what it invites the 27 EU Member States to do, each strictly within their respective competences and institutional roles.

The strategy builds on contributions received during a wide public consultation with a broad range of key stakeholders in Europe and beyond.

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