Health in the WHO European Region is generally improving, yet the commitment to leave no one behind is under threat due a number of universal trends, including:
Within this new landscape, the Region’s solidarity is a precious asset to be nurtured and preserved. An innovative Regional Office can turn rapidly evolving developments, such as the digital revolution, into opportunities for better health and equity. Only by working together and learning from each other can we enforce the human right to health and thereby contribute to fair, safe and stable societies.
In nearly 25 years as a doctor and a policy advisor working with patients, government ministers, national administrations, communities, health workers, civil society and other partners, in some of the most challenging settings on Earth, I have demonstrated my strength as a good listener, as well as a person of action. I have led and motivated multicultural teams focused on the issues that affect real people. Since moving to the WHO European Region ten years ago, I have gained a deep insight into the challenges we face together. I believe that my record shows that I have been able to provide relevant and pragmatic help to Member States with measurable results.
I will further engage in a dialogue with Ministers of Health and key stakeholders to ensure that regional priorities are driven by country needs and are evidence-informed.
Member States face a complex burden of disease with escalating noncommunicable diseases and mental illness, but also with antimicrobial resistance and re-emerging infectious diseases that can put security and population health at risk. To address this burden, there must be a sound balance between health promotion, disease prevention and curative care. While recognizing the global nature of these threats, I advocate for solutions that take into account individual Member State and sub-regional needs and contexts.
In today’s world, the difference between ill and good health is largely driven by factors that lie outside the health sector, such as education, loneliness, income and employment status, welfare benefits, housing and environmental conditions including the influence of climate change. If appointed, one of my principal tasks will be to support Ministers of Health in making government leaders and other government sectors aware of the importance of investing in health and well-being for safe, stable and fair societies. Building on my past experience, I will continue to gather convincing economic arguments and support Ministers of Health in effectively communicating these to the Ministers of Finance and across government more generally.
I have seen at first-hand how well-coordinated, people-centred health systems make a real and tangible difference to improving health and wellbeing. I have championed the concept of integrating public health, primary care, social care and specialist services which can save millions of lives, protect families from becoming poor due to ill health and increase health security.
Knowledge sharing is needed on evidence-based models of good governance, health literacy and empowerment of patients and health workers, a skilled and motivated health workforce, equitable financing models and access to essential medicines, together with harnessing the potential of digital technologies and data-driven innovations, such as big data an artificial intelligence.
Building on recent successes I have championed, such as the health system response to noncommunicable diseases and multidrug resistant tuberculosis, the Regional Office will broaden interprogrammatic work at both country and regional level.
Yet, too often we fall short of what is possible because of lack of understanding about how transformation can be successfully implemented in particular contexts. Implementing transformation in complex health systems requires attention to relationship building and the incentive structure in health systems, bringing together key partners to find and adopt solutions to complex problems.
Such transformation will improve health outcomes, patient and provider satisfaction, and the financial sustainability of health systems.
Health is a human right to which everyone is entitled, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, country of origin or financial means. This rights-based view to good health demands a life-course approach with particular attention to vulnerable groups in each country. These may include single mothers and children, elderly people, the jobless, people living with HIV, migrants and others whose health and well-being is at enhanced risk. No one should suffer stigma or discrimination.
The Regional Office has one essential mission:
inspiring and supporting Member States to improve the health of their populations at all ages.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) explicitly address the multiple, interacting determinants of health, underpinning the view that health should be taken into account in every major government policy. If appointed, I will ensure that, in partnership with Member States and other stakeholders, the Regional Office develops ongoing technical support and pragmatic guidance and tools to achieve all the health-related SDGs. This support will be adapted to each country context with a focus on integrated work across sectors, goals and targets. The World Health Organization’s 13th General Programme of Work (2019-2023), that has universal health coverage at its heart, provides the operational framework for doing so. I will support the “One WHO approach” linking the global, regional and country levels of the Organization, while ensuring that it is also aligned with the ongoing United Nations (UN) reform for the benefit of the Member States. I am committed to building upon the positive achievements made in the past decades by the Regional Office.
The Regional Office will strengthen the capacities of countries to seize new opportunities and to anticipate and manage future trends and threats by:
Such pressing issues include: how to reconcile increased health expenditure with limited economic growth; how to bring disease prevention and action on the determinants of health to the forefront of policy; and how to meaningfully engage with citizens to improve their health and well-being.
As part of the WHO Health Emergency Programme, a stronger Regional Office will help countries by:
The Regional Office will assist Member States in transforming their health systems and putting health in all policies in place by:
The Regional Office will assist Member States in creating the enabling conditions for people to live healthy lives by:
By fostering united action, the WHO Regional Office will:
Change begins at home. If appointed, I will make the Regional Office an agile, country-focused organization, that is both proactive and reactive, and always able to provide trustworthy and timely expertise relevant to all Member States. A great Regional Office will: