ERS invited to attend the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe

At the invitation of Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, ERS attended the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, which took place from 12 to 15 September, 2016, in Copenhagen.

Health ministers and high-level representatives from the 53 member states of the WHO European Region, alongside partner organisations and non-governmental organisations, debated a set of innovative action plans to improve public health throughout Europe.

Represented by ERS Past President Jørgen Vestbo and the EU affairs office, ERS continued its long standing cooperation with WHO with the aim of improving lung health and reducing the suffering caused by lung diseases.

Among the plans discussed was a new Action Plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the WHO European Region. ERS has long advocated for the need to take further steps to improve prevention of chronic respiratory diseases. This included the recognition of air pollution as the most significant environmental determinant affecting NCDs, and the need to include clean air promotion as a priority intervention.

ERS was pleased to note the inclusion of these and other factors impacting lung health in the new Action plan.

Past President, Jørgen Vestbo, highlighted: “The European Respiratory Society fully supports the work done by the WHO European Region and praises WHO Europe for the development of a new action plan on non-communicable diseases. There is an awful lot we can do in Europe both to prevent but also to control NCDs. This WHO Action Plan is a great start.”

Further suggestions from ERS such as promoting measures to tackle air pollution, emphasising a life course approach to health policy, and highlighting early detection and vaccination as a means to achieve better health outcomes, lower health costs and reduce exacerbations, which is particularly important for respiratory chronic diseases such as COPD, were also incorporated in the NCD Action Plan.

As a scientific society, ERS is committed to continue working alongside WHO to implement this Action Plan and achieve better health for all.