Ministers and other high-level health decision-makers from the 51 Member
States in the WHO European Region1 will meet in
Copenhagen, Denmark from 16 to 19 September for the fifty-second session
of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.
The more than 300 delegates attending the session are expected to discuss
a number of key issues, including the link between poverty and ill health;
the epidemiological trends in major communicable diseases such as tuberculosis,
HIV/AIDS and malaria; and the
scaling up of action for a tobacco-free Europe. The European health report
2002,2 which provides an overview of the status and determinants
of health in the Region and identifies areas for public health action,
will provide evidence-based information for the Committee's discussions.
Poverty and health will be high on the agenda of this Regional Committee
session. Recognizing the overwhelming evidence of the close relationship
between poverty and ill health and the responsibility of health systems
to improve the health of the poor, the WHO Regional Office for Europe has
gathered and analysed information on action taken in Member States to alleviate
poverty and improve the health of poor people. A collection of case studies,
entitled Poverty and health – Evidence and action in WHO's
European Region,3 will be discussed at the session.
This is one of the first attempts to evaluate how health systems can improve
the health of the poor and marginalized groups in society. The case studies
come from ten countries, in both the eastern and western parts of the Region.
Both political and financial commitment is needed from the international
community and Member States to confront the spread of communicable diseases.
Rates of tuberculosis, a classic disease of poverty, have increased by
60% in the Region in the last ten years. The crisis caused by multidrug-resistant
tuberculosis is worsening. The highest levels in the world of multidrug-resistant
tuberculosis among new cases are found in Estonia (14.7%), Latvia (9%)
and the Russian Federation (9%). In addition, HIV/AIDS is continuing to
spread; 1.56 million people in the Region were living with HIV/AIDS at
the end of 2001, compared with 420 000 only two years before. Further,
over 21 000 people suffered from malaria in 2001.
The adoption of the European Strategy for Tobacco Control at this session
of the Regional Committee is expected to be a significant step forward.
The Strategy was developed following the call of the Warsaw Declaration,
which was adopted by the WHO European Ministerial Conference for a Tobacco-free
Europe, held in February 2002 in Poland. The Strategy sets out directions
for action in the Region, to be carried out through national policies and
legislation. It provides mechanisms and tools for international cooperation.
The Strategy will also help Europe provide support for a strong global
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
For more information contact:
Press and Media Relations
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Scherfigsvej 8, DK-2100 Copenhagen ?, Denmark
Tel.: +45 39 17 13 44; fax: +45 39 17 18 80; e-
1 Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic,
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland,
Ireland, Italy, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Republic
of Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United
Kingdom, Uzbekistan and Yugoslavia.
2 Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2002 (WHO
Regional Publications, European Series, No. 97).
3 Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2002 (EUR/RC52/8),
available on the Regional Office Web site.