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The year ahead: key milestones and events for the WHO European Region in 2018

January 15, 2018

The coming year promises to be a busy and exciting one in the WHO European Region. WHO/Europe will continue its focus on implementing the Health 2020 policy framework and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as building momentum towards universal health coverage.

Efforts related to these overarching frameworks will showcase country work and country-level impact. Work will also continue on a wide range of specific health issues – from communicable and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) to health systems strengthening and building stronger evidence for health.

Additionally, in 2018 the European Region will mark several milestones and countries will come together for a number of key events. The list below offers a first look at some of the major moments for health in the Region coming up in the next 12 months.

WHO turns 70:

This year will mark 70 years since the establishment of the World Health Organization. World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April each year to recognize the founding of WHO, and in 2018 this day will see the launch of a broader campaign on universal health coverage that will last throughout the year and beyond.

30th anniversary of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network:

Consisting of nearly 100 cities and towns from 30 countries, the WHO European Healthy Cities Network links together communities that are committed to health and sustainable development. The 30th anniversary of the Network will be recognized at both the Summit of Mayors in Copenhagen on 12–13 February and the International Healthy Cities Conference in Belfast, United Kingdom on 1–4 October.

High level meeting on accelerating implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) and strengthening emergency preparedness and response:

Over 150 senior public health and technical representatives in the WHO European Region will meet in Munich, Germany on 13–15 February to define strategic regional approaches to strengthening emergency preparedness and response. The meeting aims to address new challenges to keep Europe and the world safe and will contribute to developing a WHO action plan to improve public health preparedness and response. The regional action plan will be presented to Member States at the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in September.

South-eastern Europe Health Network (SEEHN) ministers’ meeting on immunization:

The Ministry of Health, Montenegro and WHO/Europe will hold a meeting for ministers of health from countries in the SEEHN on 20 February to discuss the importance of vaccination as a critical public health intervention and highlight the immunization challenges and opportunities in the Region. Attending ministers will be invited to endorse a “statement of intent” and work will begin on developing a regional roadmap, with specific strategic objectives and targets to improve the impact of national immunization programmes over the coming years.

High-level regional meeting on health systems response to NCDs:

This meeting, taking place in Sitges (Barcelona), Spain on 16–18 April, will provide policy-makers with a platform to share country experiences of strengthening health systems for better NCD outcomes and inspire action for accelerating health systems transformation to reduce premature NCD mortality. The conclusions will feed into the United Nations High-level Meeting on NCDs in 2018 and will be presented at the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.

Regions for Health Network meeting:

The members of the WHO European Regions for Health Network, who work together and with WHO to put Health 2020 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into action in their respective areas, will gather for a meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden on 11–12 June.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Tallinn Charter:

In 2008, the countries of the Region and a range of international partners adopted the Tallinn Charter: Health Systems for Health and Wealth. The Charter provides guidance and a strategic framework for strengthening health systems in the Region. On 13–14 June, countries will gather in Tallinn once more to mark the 10 year anniversary, review progress over the past decade and discuss the path ahead for continued work to strengthen health systems.

Small Countries Initiative meeting:

WHO established the Small Countries Initiative so that countries in the Region with a population of less than 1 million people can share their knowledge on implementing Health 2020 and the 2030 Agenda. In 2018, the 8 members of the initiative will meet in Iceland on 26–27 June and will focus on working intersectorally and adopting a whole-of-society approach for improving health and well-being for all. The SDGs will be the common denominators of the technical agenda, with health and the environment as one focus of the meeting.

WHO/Europe-led event at 22nd International AIDS Conference:

The global AIDS event is expected to bring 15 000 participants to Amsterdam in July 2018, including politicians, scientists, royalty, celebrities, journalists and members of civil society. The Conference will provide an important opportunity to ensure that HIV remains high on the agenda of policy-makers in the European Region. WHO/Europe will lead an event alongside the conference that will focus on cross-sectoral collaboration and boosting political will to tackle the HIV epidemic in the Region.

68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe:

The Region’s governing body will meet in Rome, Italy on 17–20 September to discuss and take collective action on health issues ranging from men’s health and well-being to financial protection in the Region, from public health preparedness and response to the strategic role of WHO country offices. The decisions taken at the Regional Committee feed into policies that drive much of the action towards improved health.

Marking the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata:

At the International Conference on Primary Health Care, held in Alma-Ata (now Almaty), Kazakhstan in 1978, Member States signed the Declaration of Alma-Ata, expressing the need for urgent national and international action to protect and promote the health of all. 40 years later, countries will gather in Almaty again to celebrate this milestone and address the need for continued efforts to support and strengthen primary health care.

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