- The first high-level coordination meeting between the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and World Health Organization (WHO) took place on Thursday 28 April.
- The meeting brought together more than 30 representatives and experts from the UfM and WHO to discuss and explore various avenues for collaboration in order to implement the Joint Action Plan following the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both parties on 5 March 2020.
- We need to continue exploring other common and horizontal areas of cooperation related to health to find better solutions for the common challenges we face.
28 April 2021. The global pandemic has put to test public health systems, economic infrastructures, and mechanisms of governance and management across the world. The increasing complexity and interdepency of global issues related to health, environment gender violence, economic inequalities, and education require international coordinated response, joint efforts and intersectoral collaboration.
The first high level coordination meeting between the UfM and WHO was an opportunity to share and update both parties on the strategies, agendas, projects, and initiatives in fields that fall within their mandates and capacities such as environment, urban development, climate change, employment, Higher education and research among others.
The meeting served as an occasion to identify avenues of collaboration in line with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where the two parties agreed to join efforts and work on promoting universal coverage, health research, clean water, sanitation, urban development and governance, healthy city policies, energy and climate action, clean air polices, health education, addressing violence against women, and women´s access to health.
During the meeting, Marisa Farrugia, Deputy Secretary General for Social and Civil Affairs Division, remarked with satisfaction that the bilateral work between UfM and WHO progressed steadily over the years and expanded to cover all six sectors of the UfM. She highlighted that the ongoing regional dynamics call for better coordination and complementarity between international and regional stakeholders for a stronger impact. The meeting aims “ to continue exploring other common and horizontal areas of co-operation related to health to find better solutions for the common challenges that we face.” DSG SCA underlined that the signing of the MoU and the WHO UfM labelled project could not be more timely to address health issues in the region that give an impetus to the UfM policy framework.
Participants from both organizations agreed on the need for close collaboration and have already set plans to cooperate on many levels and areas. These include joining high-levels events like the UfM conference on Disability and Social Inclusion in October 2021, institutional support to the implementation of the recently labelled WHO project that focuses on gender-based violence and the health sector, and thematic inputs to other UfM Dialogues.
These collaborative actions are in line with the visions of both Organisations. The WHO Director-General’s Envoy for Multilateral Affairs, Professor Agnès Buzyn said during the meeting that “ The pandemic has radically changed the way governments approach health. There is a recognition that there is an unbreakable bond between the health of nations and the health of their economies and societies, as well as the potential for connectivity between countries through trade, travel, tourism.”
This high level meeting is a continuation of years of collaboration between the two parties and it has set an ambitious agenda and an action plan to expand its field of work in order to alleviate inequalities and build more sustainable and inclusive societies in the Euro-Mediterranean region.