MINSK, 19 November (BelTA) - Belarus has been elected chairman of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), BelTA learned from the press service of the Healthcare Ministry.
The fifth meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health is running in Belgrade, Serbia from 19 to 21 November. The official delegation of Belarus is headed by deputy healthcare minister - chief state sanitary doctor Natalia Shchukova.
The high-level ministerial session of the Meeting will review progress towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals related to water, sanitation and health, and foster strategic discussion on implementation gaps. Participants will discuss political and technical dimensions of key issues for the pan-European region, such as the safe management of water and sanitation services in light of climate change; equitable access to water and sanitation; and current water-related health concerns, such as Legionella outbreaks and antimicrobial resistance.
At the meeting, Belarus was elected chairman of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol for 2020-2022 taking over the presidency from Serbia. The country's candidacy was approved by all participants of the meeting.
Belarus' chairmanship will work to implement the Protocol's global initiatives and fundamental decisions seeking to improve health and well-being of all people in the pan-European region by ensuring safe water use and sustainable water management.
Recently Belarus has been one of the leading countries both in promoting the Protocol at the international level and also in implementing it at the national level, said Anatoly Grushkovsky, head of the Healthcare Ministry's external relations department. According to the UNDP, Belarus s among the countries with 100% sustainable access to improved water sources (in terms of quantity, quality and proximity of water sources).
Natalia Shchukova took part in several high-level panel discussions, held meetings with acting Director of the WHO European Office Piroska Ostlin, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe Olga Algayerova, representatives of the states – participants of the meeting on the development of bilateral cooperation in healthcare.
The Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes is the first and only international legal agreement linking sustainable water management and the prevention, control and reduction of water-related diseases in Europe. Belarus joined the Protocol in 2009. The Healthcare Ministry and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection are the main bodies to fulfill the commitments undertaken under the protocol. The work is coordinated by the Scientific Practical Center of Hygiene which acts as the National Focal Point of the Protocol on Water and Health.