Cyprus Mail

Larnaca-based WHO office agreed

WHO, Larnaca office, Hans Kluge, Hadjipantela
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela and WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela on Friday signed an agreement for the opening of a regional World Health Organisation (WHO) office in Larnaca in the presence of WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge.

According to the WHO, the office will serve as a point of reference in the region to strengthening public health and upgrading preparedness to deal with eventual future infectious diseases, “through the promotion of innovative actions aimed at prevention, as well as collection, dissemination and evaluation of epidemiological data.”

“We want to play a role, not only in the region, but internationally, making this office the best in the world,” Hadjipantela said.

“Cyprus has the will and the know-how to support the WHO.”

Speaking after the Health Minister, Kluge also praised Cyprus for its quick adoption of digital tools in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its swift measures to stem transmission of the virus.

“A nation’s public health is tied to regional public health which in turn, is tied to global public health,” Kluge said.

“Europe and the rest of the world have a lot to learn from Cyprus and its vital role in regional and sub-regional public health.”

Kluge also added that the coronavirus emergency is far from over and that the past three years need to act as a reminder for people regarding the emergence of other potential infectious diseases in the future.

“We are only at the beginning of the road to recovery. Covid-19 is still with us and has already exposed our weaknesses,” he said.

“The many challenges we have faced and will undoubtedly face again know no borders. No country or organisation can deal with them alone.

“If there is one think that the coronavirus has taught us is that international and regional cooperation in the health sector is essential.”

He also said that the WHO is beginning to draw a plan aimed at designing new strategies and action plans to strengthen the preparedness, response, and resilience in case a new pandemic threat emerges.

The plan, which is slated to cover a period spanning from 2024 to 2029, will be called “Readiness 2.0.”

“Based on lessons learned from recent and ongoing emergencies, the aim of ‘Readiness 2.0’ is to create a centre with the required capabilities and pan-European networks to rapidly detect, verify and communicate new and evolving health medical threats and draw effective emergency response,” Kluge said.

He finally added that the WHO is addressing the threat of antimicrobial resistance, by training regional health emergency workforces, countering misinformation, and, above all, “building community trust in an increasingly divided world.”

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