Greek Minister of Health makes first visit to WHO/Europe

WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, and the Greek Minister of Health, Dr Vasileios Kikilias, spoke about a number of health matters, including quality of care and patient safety, during the Minister’s first visit to WHO/Europe in Copenhagen.

Quality of care and patient safety

Greece has undertaken a range of important developments in recent years related to the issues of quality of care and patient safety. Combined with the high quality of Greek health institutions and its top-class researchers in the field of health and well-being, the country is showing strong leadership in the context of the WHO European Region and beyond.

In a joint statement, WHO/Europe and the Ministry of Health of the Hellenic Republic expressed a shared ambition to achieve the highest level of health, well-being and health protection in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Discussions included initial exchanges regarding the possibility of opening a new WHO Centre of Excellence for Quality of Care and Patient Safety in Athens which, if confirmed, would focus on the provision of technical assistance, support and leadership for quality of care and patient safety.

Linked to the European Programme of Work (EPW), which was recently adopted by Member States at WHO/Europe’s 70th Regional Committee, there is an opportunity to consider the coherence of policies, structures and resources for quality health care. This includes highlighting the importance of quality care and taking a life-course approach, leaving no one behind in health.

Ongoing cooperation

The visit of Dr Kikilias offered the opportunity to speak about broader areas of collaboration between Greece and WHO, including non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This includes Greece’s recent proactive efforts in the areas of tobacco control, such as banning smoking in public places, and the launch of the National Action Plan Against Smoking. This is in addition to improvements in the quality of health care, primary health care reform and health system strengthening.

WHO and Greece have also collaborated on other priority areas in recent months, including the COVID-19 response and migrant health. A recent fire at the Moria refugee camp in Lesvos left thousands without shelter. Representatives from WHO’s country office in Greece undertook a rapid assessment to map resources and work with national authorities. At the request of the Greek Government, emergency teams from Norway and Belgium were deployed through WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) to provide access to health services.

WHO established a country office in Athens in 2018 to facilitate cooperation and continuous technical support in relevant areas. A biennial workplan has been agreed between WHO and the Greek Ministry of Health and is currently being implemented.

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