On my third day on the job, I met with Ms Zsuszanna Jakab, the WHO Regional Director, whom I know since my time as Health Minister of Lithuania. We discussed our priorities and opportunities to collaborate during our mandates.
The European Commission and the WHO Regional Office have been successfully cooperating for several years in the areas of health security, information and systems. We both felt that the beginning of our mandates is the perfect timing to launch a new joint declaration which will be based on the achievements of the last years. We will do it at the upcoming WHO Regional Committee in Vilnius next year.
Ms Jakab identified health in all policies as one of her top priorities, touching upon education sector, social policy, employment and environment, to be discussed with EU Ministers. On my side, I stressed the importance of putting joint efforts into lifestyle and nutrition - a topic which I wish to raise with each Member State to encourage more actions. Another area will be the promotion of child vaccination where I feel that the Commission and WHO could collaborate work more closely.
Finally, we updated each other on the Ebola crisis in West Africa and stressed the need for more EU action to assist the affected countries in the coming months. We also shared the view that despite the current dramatic situation due to the Ebola outbreak there are other neglected diseases such as malaria or cholera that require our attention.