ASTANA – Astana hosts the 73rd session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Europe on Oct.24-26, where the health agenda for the forthcoming years will be established.
Health ministers and industry experts from 53 countries will deliberate on various issues, including health emergencies, the health and care workforce, antimicrobial resistance, and refugee and migrant health in Europe and Central Asia.
During his welcoming address, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated Kazakhstan on the Republic Day celebrated on Oct. 25 and praised the country’s notable transition toward adopting a primary health care approach.
“Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how the values of the Alma-Ata and Astana declarations can be implemented in practice. I had the honor of joining the Kazakh Minister of Healthcare Azhar Giniyat for the opening of the Republican Primary Health Care Governance Center. It was established to compile the lessons learned from best practices and to strengthen health system governance and to support expanding access to high-quality primary health care services for the people of Kazakhstan,” he said.
Ghebreyesus also underscored Kazakhstan’s mobile clinics initiative, which endeavors to reach remote communities facing barriers to health services.
He called upon WHO member states to intensify their efforts and make more innovative investments towards reorienting to a primary health care approach.
“This must go in hand with supporting and investing in the health and care workforce with quality education, fair pay, proper equipment, and decent working conditions. These are investments not only in the health of your population but also in your country’s social and economic development. Investments in primary health care are investments in the future,” he said.
In turn, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge highlighted noteworthy events and achievements in public health in Central Asia in recent years.
He outlined three pillars underpinning the concept of a resilient region, namely resilient governance, a resilient health system, and resilient people.
“Resilient governance means governance that is participatory and which is aligned with global processes,” he said.
Kluge emphasized three key areas of alignment with global processes: aligning with the United Nations Secretary-General’s agenda to unify WHO efforts, aligning with the World Trade Organization (WTO), and inter-regional collaboration, strengthening the region’s unity and internal coherence.
He stressed the possibility of shaping an economy that goes beyond monetary gains and promotes the well-being of all members of society.
Kluge highlighted that 81% of Europeans believe that reducing inequalities should be a top political priority and underscored the significance of policies that deliver tangible benefits to ordinary people.
“This is critical if we want to rebuild socially inclusive societies that are healthy,” said Kluge.