The World Health Organization organized a meeting in Larnaka to discuss a ‘Regional Action Plan on Migration and Refugee Health’. The meeting was attended by delegates from neighboring regions of Europe, Africa, and the Eastern Mediterranean.
In her address at the meeting, the Minister of Health, Dr. Popi Kanari, said that the WHO Regional Office for Europe, led by Dr. Hans Kluge, Regional Director, is developing a new action plan for refugee and migrant health in the WHO European Region from 2023 to 2030, in full consultation with Member States and key partners.
"We are very proud that this Europe-wide consultation is taking place here in Larnaca, Cyprus. The meeting will be a milestone in defining regional work on health and migration going forward, and we fully support these joint efforts in this field. This meeting will be an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned from the previous action plan and on current challenges and opportunities for the future of migrant and refugee health," she pointed out.
She added that the draft Regional Action Plan for Refugee and Migrant Health in the WHO European Region 2023-2030 aims to support countries to make health for all, including refugees and migrants, a reality.
In the spirit of leaving no one behind, she continued, the action plan aims to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. It also aims to translate and operationalize global instruments on health and migration, including the Global Action Plan on Promoting the Health of Refugees and Migrants, in the regional context and in accordance with regional priorities.
The action plan addresses five strategic priorities in coherence with the vision. Firstly, ensuring refugees and migrants benefit from universal health coverage, secondly, implementing inclusive emergency and disaster risk reduction policies, then developing inclusive environments that promote human rights, social inclusion, health and well-being, and strengthening migration and health governance and evidence and data-driven policymaking, as well as exploring innovative ways of working and developing enabling partnerships.
"The participation of so many countries demonstrates the importance of developing a concerted action plan to deal with the refugee and migration crisis in this region, and this can only be tackled through regional and global cooperation," the Cypriot Minister said.
Concluding, she noted that the Republic of Cyprus fully endorses the development of this action plan and recognizes that health is a fundamental human right and a key driver of peace, solidarity, inclusion, and stability.
On behalf of the WHO, Dr. Ιrshad Ali Shail, Special Representative and officer in charge of the Office of World Health Organisation in Cyprus, said that in January, the agreement to open an office in Cyprus was signed between the government of Cyprus and the Regional office, adding that this first global meeting here validates the vision of the country.
He stated that both the Regional Director, Dr. Hans Krueger, and the Director-General, Dr. Tedros, agree that global issues require global solutions and that partnership is the way forward. This, he added, is something that COVID also emphasized very strongly.
Cyprus, he pointed out, is a country that is strategically and geopolitically positioned at the junction of East and West and with strong country expertise on the issue. We want Cyprus to play that role of health and health security without borders, he said.
He also noted that immigration is a global issue that underscores the commitment of WHO and the member states to leave no one behind.