PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE MINISTRY FOR HEALTH: Obesity and structured cross-border cooperation – main areas for health during Malta’s EU presidency

While addressing the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, Minister for Health Chris Fearne said that the same health issues discussed in this committee will be the main areas for health during Malta’s EU Presidency next year.

The main area of focus for health will be obesity, in particular childhood obesity, as well as structured cross-border cooperation, including access to specialized and innovative medicines.

Minister Fearne said that the changing social, cultural, political, economic, demographic and epidemiological realities render the task of addressing health issues in a holistic manner increasingly interesting.

“Non-communicable disease, emerging infections and emergency preparedness remain concerns for the coming years. We believe that to address these challenges we need to have strong and resilient health systems which are easily accessible, equitable and fair. Keeping these systems sustainable is a major concern, which we must address aggressively. As an organisation WHO Europe must also look at health equity across the continent, as well as actively engaging with all stakeholders, including patient representatives and the pharmaceutical industry. Malta will be addressing these exact issues during our EU presidency in the first 6 months of next year. Our main areas of focus will be obesity, in particular childhood obesity, as well as structured cross-border cooperation, including access to specialized and innovative medicines,” said Minister Fearne.

The Minister for Health said that the adaptation and implementation of strategies and action plans at a national level are primarily a member state-driven initiative. However, the achievement of our national, regional and global goals and targets will still require a major input from the World Health Organisation. WHO needs therefore to be geared to address such challenges as well as deal with the crises which hit us from time to time. With this in mind we would like to see a steady rate of implementation of the reform process. This process must render the organisation more transparent, accountable, efficient and effective in its role as the leading organisation in governance for health.

Malta, Minister Fearne said, will remain committed to continue with its efforts to address these longstanding, as well as emerging, health challenges and to support the organisation in its ongoing work

Source: Government of Malta