Reflections from WONCA Europe President on WHO Europe's 69th meeting

Dear Colleagues,

I attended the 69th WHO Europe meeting from 15-20 September this year, representing WONCA Europe.

In the run up to the meeting, I was asked to prepare a statement on Equity. During the week, I was pleased to see Member State delegations becoming more inclusive towards the Non State Actors (NSAs). Sadly, a panel which could be considered as the backbone of the WHO69 on Equity with valuable panelists, was shortened due to time restrictions, and therefore valuable messages weren’t able to be shared. 

What I have certainly learned and reflected on during this week is that we have to determine the root causes of the issues we are facing this coming year. We have to find the answer to health related problems in the European region in collaboration with the WHO, as expressed in our signed Memorandum of Understanding. 

One of the topics that was focused on was Health Literacy. Education for a PHC professional, for a family doctor, is universally relevant to any health professional and deserves special attention in educational institutions. One of the topics we focused on here is Health Literacy. What is needed here is education. This is vital not only for health professionals, but also for society at large! Education leads towards progress, liberation and social behavior respectively. 

I also have seen this week how WHO Europe 69 is clearly mentioning and prioritising primary health care for the next year. Person centred care, patient participation, shared decision making, patient education, and self-management will be addressed – all in line with our core values at WONCA Europe. 

WHO is prioritsing primary health care and moving very fast on digital health, which is both patient centred and contributing to the design of preventive measures for such risk factors in health.

I would like to congratulate Dr Hans Kluge, for becoming Regional Director of WHO Europe. He has a longstanding relationship with WONCA Europe, and his election will enable us to work closely with WHO Europe in the years to come. He mentioned to me that he would like to attend our WONCA Europe 2020 Conference in Berlin. This will provide another opportunity for us to determine how we can best collaborate on achieving health for all. 

In summary, the five days flew by, the NSAs performed better this year and were received well by the WHO region.

The importance of three challenges to tackle in the upcoming year were pinpointed by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO:
“I leave you with three challenges for the next year:
1- Determine the root causes
2- Strengthen health literacy
3- Prioritize #primarycare"

Kindest regards,

Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ungan