Health Ministers from Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden, the State Secretary of Health and Care Services from Norway, and WHO Regional Director Dr. Hans Kluge gathered in Stockholm on January 17 to reaffirm their commitment to the Partnership. The high-level participants expressed their determination to continue working collectively in the face of evolving geopolitical dynamics. The meeting was chaired by the Swedish Minister of Health, Mr. Jakob Forssmed.
Acknowledging the changing global landscape, the ministers explored new avenues of collaboration within the Partnership, particularly in emergency preparedness and response. All participants wholeheartedly welcomed the video intervention by the guest of honor, Minister of Health of Ukraine, Mr. Viktor Liashko, expressing interest in potential collaboration with Ukraine. The aim is a long-term cooperation and equal partnership where the partners work together and contribute from each side to the main purpose of mutual learning.
The participants emphasized that there is much to be learned from Ukraine, especially when it comes to providing health and care services in times of crisis. The participants also recognized Ukraine’s resilience to implementing public health sector reforms despite all the hardships, highlighting the mutual benefits of cooperation.
The conference addressed the pressing issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the biggest public health threats of our lifetime, following the successful side-event on AMR, held the day before. The participants agreed that our region is doing relatively well, in terms of antimicrobial resistance levels and responsible consumption of antibiotics, but more can be done, in enhancing public communication, addressing environmental risks linked to pharmaceutical waste, and adopting a comprehensive government approach under health ministries’ leadership. The AMR Expert Group was requested to develop proposals for joint initiatives based on the discussions.
NDPHS PAC 2024, Stockholm ©NDPHS Secretariat
Other themes to be prioritized for collaboration within the Partnership include the shared challenges of tackling mental health crisis, digitalization of health services, and mitigating the impact of climate change on health. The Partners have a lot to learn from each other on these issues of common interest, consolidating positions to better meet the challenges, and as a result also securing more impact and stronger collective identity.
United in their vision for the future of the Partnership, the participants emphasized the importance of sustaining regional collaboration. They called for like-minded partners sharing the democratic values and commitment to improving health and well-being of all people in the region to join forces, unite in common actions, and speak in one voice.
The Conference marked the transition of chairship and passing over the leader’s baton from Sweden to Lithuania, with Norway assuming the role of co-Chair.
This gathering of friends and allies has brought a sense of content and hope, but also the recognition that now is not the moment for complacency. We are committed to go full steam ahead, with determination, agility, and pragmatism, as we stand united to support each other in these uncertain times.