The World Health Organization Regional Committee for Europe reviewed countries’ implementation of the SDGs in Europe at its 68th annual meeting.
The meeting also launched the WHO’s flagship European Health Report and introduced a joint monitoring framework to reduce countries’ burden of SDG reporting.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, welcomed countries’ efforts have taken toward targets set under the Health 2020 policy as well as the health-related SDGs.
18 September 2018: The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Europe reviewed countries’ implementation of the SDGs in Europe, launched the WHO’s flagship European Health Report and introduced a joint monitoring framework (JMF) to reduce countries’ burden of SDG reporting. A WHO official welcomed countries’ efforts toward targets set under the Health 2020 policy as well as the health-related SDGs.
The Regional Committee’s 68th annual meeting convened from 17-20 September 2018, in Rome, Italy. More than 400 health ministers and senior policymakers from 53 countries took part in the meeting, which addressed implementation of the SDGs in the region on its second day.
Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, welcomed progress, saying it has been “encouraging but uneven.” WHO announced that the region is reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 2% annually, surpassing the objective set in SDG target 3.4 to reduce such deaths by 1.5% annually. Life expectancy in the region has increased by one year, compared with data from five years previously. The WHO warned, however, that these gains may be reduced by current trends of increased obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and failure to immunize.
Piroska Östlin, WHO Europe, said 35 countries from the region have reported their progress on SDG implementation to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). These Voluntary National Review (VNR) reports have mentioned universal health coverage (UHC) and equity most frequently, and given less attention to activities relating to the environmental and social determinants of health, health literacy, health financing, and investment for health.
Delegates will draft a set of common indicators for reporting against Health 2020, the 2030 Agenda, and the NCDs global action plan.
Delegates welcomed the JMF introduced by WHO, which aims to report against common standards under Health 2020, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the global action plan for prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020. They agreed to draft a set of common indicators for reporting against the three policy frameworks.
Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, highlighted his country’s establishment of a multi-stakeholder, high-level inter-ministerial committee on the SDGs, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, and its steps to making UHC a national reality. He urged WHO to expand its work in the areas of health technology assessments, big data, digital health and human resources.
A panel discussion on the SDGs featured high-level delegates from Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Malta and Romania. Panelists highlighted the importance of UHC. Sabine Weiss, Ministry of Health, Germany, announced that Germany, Ghana and Norway have requested WHO to introduce a draft action plan on SDG 3 (good health and well-being) to the World Health Summit when it convenes in Berlin, Germany, in October 2018.
The meeting also discussed a strategy to improve men’s health and wellbeing, and adopted an action plan to improve regional public health preparedness and response. Delegates noted an ongoing outbreak of measles that has claimed 37 fatalities in the region, and could have been prevented through vaccination. They drew attention to vector-borne diseases, transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes, as an emerging public health threat linked to changing weather patterns and increased travel and trade. They discussed existing country approaches to financial protection in European health systems. [WHO press release on European Regional Committee meeting] [Day 1 highlights] [Day 2 highlights] [Day 3 highlights] [Day 4 highlights] [WHO Regional Committee meeting webpage]