MINSK, 14 October (BelTA) – The World Health Organization (WHO) is interested in advancing relations with Belarus to a brand-new level, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said as he met with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko on 14 October, BelTA has learned.
“Thank you very much for the opportunity to meet with you. This is a very important moment for me. The main objective for me is to advance our relations to a brand-new level,” he said.
Hans Kluge remarked that a new cooperation plan for 2022-2023 was signed with the Belarusian Healthcare Ministry on 14 October. “Indeed, I agree with you that this is a moment of opportunity because the healthcare minister is now a member of the executive committee of our organization [WHO] and can influence the global structure of the organization in general. Like you said, health should be above politics. This is the main goal in my work,” the WHO official said.
In a conversation with journalists after the meeting with the Belarusian president Hans Kluge mentioned a number of aspects in the plan of cooperation. For example, one of them is the availability of medical services to the population, and Belarus is doing well in this field. “This can be attributed to the country's successful efforts to preserve the healthcare basis from the Soviet times and to improve its quality,” the WHO representative said.
The sides are also going to continue joint work to reduce prices for medications and to make them more accessible for the population. Belarus has already made certain progress in this area. It is important to join efforts to digitize medical services. The sides will also focus on raising the professional level of healthcare employees.
Hans Kluge deems it necessary to expand vaccination amid the pandemic, to guarantee access to different vaccines only on a voluntary basis. Instead of forcing people to get vaccinated, he believes, it is essential to work with leaders of certain social groups to encourage people to make a decision.
According to the WHO official, nine out of ten people in the region die from chronic diseases. Therefore, it is also necessary to continue working in this direction. Such diseases as tuberculosis, HIV, Hepatitis C remain on the agenda. Belarus was one of the first countries to get a certificate confirming the eradication of cases of HIV transmission from mother to child and congenital syphilis. “In this context, I would like to congratulate you on this great result. However, it is essential to maintain quality to meet the standards of this certificate,” Hans Kluge said.
Speaking about other goals of his visit to Belarus, he remarked that the WHO and the CIS countries have recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of cooperation. The WHO and the CIS Council for Cooperation in Healthcare have signed a memorandum.
Hans Kluge told Aleksandr Lukashenko that he wanted Belarus to be a leader in the promotion of ideas and medical practices in the CIS region. Hans Kluge mentioned the recent signing of a memorandum between the WHO and the Eurasian Economic Commission. “Eastern Europe is my geopolitical priority. This region is also very dear to my heart,” the WHO official concluded.