Brussels, 08 May 2003
European Commissioners and high-level representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have reiterated their commitment to strengthening and increasing collaboration in the field of public health.
During a series of high level consultations on 6 May, Commissioners Philippe Busquin (research), Pascal Lamy (trade), David Byrne (health and consumer protection), Margot Wallström (environment) and the head of Commissioner Nielson's cabinet (development) met with WHO representatives to discuss a variety of health related issues where joint strategies are essential. These included disease control with particular regard to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS); the framework convention on tobacco control (FCTC); public awareness of diet and physical activity for risk reduction; the environmental impact on health; cooperation in developing countries and global health research.
On the subject of enhancing EU and WHO collaboration in the field of research, the Commissioner for Research, Mr Busquin, and the director general of WHO, Gro Harlem Brundtland, agreed that both communities must actively participate in one another's respective policy, advisory and technical consultations. In addition to open consultation, the EU and WHO could also organise joint meetings to discuss areas of mutual interest, suggested Mr Busquin and Mr Brundtland.
Mr Busquin outlined how the Commission is already in the process of implementing health related initiatives that aim to bring together all stakeholders. One such initiative is the 'European and developing countries clinical trials programme' (EDCTP), aimed at developing affordable drugs to treat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis through a new type of partnership between Europe and developing countries.
Furthermore, both officials said that they look forward to reading the forthcoming world health report on health research, and participating in the ministerial meeting on global health research, which is scheduled for November 2004 in Mexico.