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Who-Europe:healthcare crucial for cohesion

Scano (Who Rep. Serbia), also for economic development

04 October, 22:02
(ANSA) - TRIESTE, 04 OTT - "One of the good things that have emerged from the pandemic is that it has rendered the value of Healthcare very visibile. Very many countries are changing their governance in this area: it is no longer a mere responsibility of the Ministry for Health, but it is a matter that is dealt with by the whole government, just as it would be done for matters relating to Energy or Economic Development. This approach, however, should not be only restricted to the Covid pandemic. Investments in Healthcare should be considered crucial for a country's Economic Development, as investments, namely, that go hand in hand with Research & Development and Innovation". That is what Fabio Scano, Who Representative in Serbia and Special Envoy of the Regional Director for the Western Balkans, told ANSA, while in Trieste for a conference co-organised by Cei (Central European Initiative) and Who.

"We are facing troubling times in terms of geopolitics. I am thinking of the Ukraine crisis and at new threats of epidemics and pandemicsl The more international tension there is and the harder it is for governments to enter in discussions, the more Healthcare can be a neutral topic around which to create consensus. In the region I work, the Western Bakans, there are very many topics that can spark tensions. Among the few that can build cohesion, the population's health can be a very important one", he claimed.

"This international dimension of healthcare cannot be dealt with in a purely technical way. It could straddle Healthcare and Trade, as it could for instance be done in the area of pharmaceutical products, starting with vaccines. A platform that facilitates the purchasing power of the Western Balkans, these small countries are at a disadvantage in acquiring pharmaceutical products. This area is indeed the one on which the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses of the population are highest. In this sector, there are huge market foces that need to managed", Scano explained. "The political identity of healthcare has been made visible with vaccination - he noted - Here, solidarity played an important role, and it bestowed geopolitical advantages. There has been a great deal of solidarity: Serbia, for instance, donated vaccines to Bosnia in March 2021. Besides, the fact that vaccines came late to the Balkans led to a certain degree of vaccine hesitancy. We are now working to understand the causes of this hesitancy and to develop interventions with local authorities. Nonetheless, certain population groups, for instance that of the over-70s, have a high vaccination coverage in Serbia, above 80 percent.

With the arrival of winter, it will be very important to continue the vaccination effort, including flu jabs, of the most vulnerable population groups in order to protect them and the healthcare system from new waves", he stated.

"The relationship between Who and Cei started at the outset of the pandemic. It is a testimony of the insight of the Regional Director, Hans Kluge, and the Secretary General of Cei, Roberto Antonione, into how crucial the intersection of healthcare, political governance and foreign policy is. This should be an effort that is facilitated by all national and international institution", he concluded. (ANSA).

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