Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being


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This section presents a selection of speeches made on behalf of the Partnership during non-NDPHS events.

2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

19 September

16 -19 September 2019, Copenhagen, Denmark

Agenda item 3 “Matters arising from resolutions and decisions of the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board, Development of a proposal for a decade of healthy ageing 2020-2030”

Intervention by Dr. Ülla-Karin Nurm, Director of the NDPHS Secretariat

The Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being is very much welcoming the proposal for a decade of healthy ageing 2020-2030. Our Partnership is joining the global efforts and has prioritized healthy and active ageing as cross-cutting topic in our future multiannual strategy, therefore I can assure you that we are fully aligned with the initiative, will contribute to it and would like to strengthen our links with WHO working on this area.

Our Partnership is currently developing a strategic framework for action on healthy ageing with support of the seed money from the Swedish Institute and our Partner Country Germany. We are aiming more cross-sectoral collaboration, broadening the participation beyond the regular NDPHS actors by seeking for committed partners from civil society, academia as well as from private sector. Interested stakeholders are welcome to join our initiative.

The WHO draft proposal for a decade of healthy ageing captures the main required action areas and activities quite well. It is highly appreciated that the combating of ageism will be integral part to the activities. Our societies to a large extent are still age-unfriendly where discrimination and negative attitudes towards ageing are common. Misconceptions about ageing that prevail among employers, social and health care workers and among the older population itself are yet common.

The evidence might be just the opposite – the loss of abilities typically associated with ageing may be only loosely related to a person’s chronological age and depends on the events throughout the life course. Persons with a healthy lifestyle and access to timely and qualitative health services nowadays are very likely to enjoy their older years successfully in good health, experience less limitations and achieve things that previous generations would have thought impossible. And even people who are experiencing a decline in their capabilities can live more fulfilling lives and contribute to the society if they have an access to supportive services and environments.

One area in the proposal that requires stronger emphasis is the life-course approach to ageing. We start ageing from the moment we are born, and how our older years will look depends on various biological, psychological and social factors throughout our life.
Knowledge what to anticipate on the journey when we get older, is as important as maintaining healthy lifestyle and having access to preventive interventions early in life. We need to empower people to plan and prepare for their own ageing and start this process long time before the second half of life.

With this I would like to thank you for your attention!

19 September

16 -19 September 2019, Copenhagen, Denmark

Agenda item 5j “Progress reports. Communicable diseases”

Intervention by Dr. Ülla-Karin Nurm, Director of the NDPHS Secretariat

When the NDPHS was established in 2003, HIV-infection was decided as one of the key priorities in the Partnership’s activity, and an Expert Group on HIV/AIDS was established. With time it became obvious that HIV often walks hand in hand with another deadly infection – tuberculosis. Eventually, the scope of the Expert Group was broadened to encompass tuberculosis. A few years ago, the name of the Expert Group was changed again to include associated infections, where hepatitis is usually implied as an associated condition. The Partnership has elevated the visibility of hepatitis on the agenda of infections addressed in the ND area. Thus, changes in the name of the Expert Group reflect the transformations in the epidemiological picture and political agenda in the last 15 years.

The current epidemiological situation for HIV-infection, tuberculosis and hepatitis across the Northern Dimension area is diverse. There are countries which have consistently low figures for the infections, but in the Northern Dimension overall, the progress is not fast or steady enough to achieve success in objective 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. There are also challenges and development needs that are common for the whole region. An example of such a challenge is the need to focus on developing well-linked, integrated and people-centred service delivery, and particularly for the vulnerable groups of people.

Being a solid network represented by experts from countries, which are characterized by various epidemiological hallmarks, employ various approaches and interventions in response to epidemic processes, the NDPHS Expert Group provides a platform for sharing best practices and novel techniques, in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. We are often having very open and honest exchange of information among the peers from our Partner countries, and this is valued as a crucial prerequisite for crafting policies, clinical practices and research.

Ladies and gentlemen, the NDPHS highly appraises the lead role the WHO plays in combatting HIV-infection and hepatitis and the efforts the Member States invest into response, and assures you that our Partnership will continue its collaborative actions contributing to implementing the WHO strategies until we see the elimination of those threats for people’s health and lives.

Thank you for your attention!

16 September


16 -19 September 2019, Copenhagen, Denmark

Agenda item 2 “Address by the Regional Director and report on the work of the Regional Office since the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe”

Intervention by Dr. Ülla-Karin Nurm, Director of the NDPHS Secretariat

Dear Mr. President, Director General, Madam Regional Director, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to address you on behalf of the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being.
I would like to begin by thanking you, Madam Regional Director, for the decade of your dedicated work. I am reaffirming that our Partnership is fully supportive of the WHO activities in the region and in our work, we are striving to complement the WHO efforts in the best way we can.
We are particularly pleased with the established fruitful cooperation between our Partnership’s seven Expert Groups (AMR, ASA, Hiv/TB/AI, NCD, OSH, PH, PHC) and the respective WHO technical programs.
Additionally, our Partnership has a good experience of working with geographically dispersed offices in the WHO European region, and especially with the WHO European Centre for NCDs in Moscow and the WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care in Almaty. To illustrate, the NDPHS expert group on PHC is working largely based on WHO strategies and guidance in order to accelerate the progress on achieving universal health coverage for the people in the Northern Dimension countries.

Clearly, there are many issues that require continued coordinated efforts. For example, the importance of a comprehensive alcohol policy on the international level cannot be underestimated, since many aspects of alcohol policy cross the borders. There is a need for a vigorous progress in Europe with the alcohol policy, as the regional action plan is coming to an end. In this regard, the NDPHS is committed to contribute by fostering cross-border collaboration among our Partners.
Along with looking forward to strengthening the existing links, we are exploring new ways to support the efforts initiated by the WHO.
By way of example, I would like to mention that during the recent Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in Gdansk our Partnership launched a seminar on circular economy and health. Our aim was to bring this theme on the intersectoral political agenda and raise the awareness about health impacts of circular economy among the policy makers who are representing fields other than health. We would like to further pursue the role of the Partnership as a platform for facilitating intersectoral and multi-level policy making by reaching out to new stakeholders.

To wrap up, at the moment our Partnership is in the process of developing its new long-term Strategy setting new targets and revising modalities of work. Healthy Ageing will be the cross-cutting theme prioritized by the Partnership. We are striving to align our new Strategy in all areas with the WHO priorities and especially the Sustainable Development Goals, in order to address the health-related challenges facing our region in a harmonized, streamlined and effective way.
And finally, Madam Regional Director, Dear Zsuzsanna, please allow me to express our greatest appreciation to your solid visionary leadership, enthusiasm and excellent commitment in striving towards making health a major political objective and a marker of political success in Europe as well as worldwide. Köszönöm!

With this I thank you for your attention!

05 March

Also in pdf format

6th Northern Dimension Senior Officials Meeting

5 March 2019, Brussels, Belgium

Intervention by the Director of the NDPHS Secretariat.

What next in this Partnership

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for the invitation to this meeting and the opportunity to address you on behalf of the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being.
The original Northern Dimension Policy will celebrate the 20th anniversary this year, and our Partnership is just four years younger. As of today, we have grown into a mature network combining policy and decision makers, experts and a well-established Secretariat hosted by Sweden. We deliver practical results that have a real impact.
As an example, our Antimicrobial Resistance Expert Group has just completed its work on the EU co-financed project “Northern Dimension Antibiotic Resistance Study” (NoDARS). Nowadays antimicrobial resistance is among the most serious health threats and extensive knowledge of the antibiotic resistance epidemiology is important to help countries design more effective and efficient approaches to the antimicrobial resistance. NoDARS provided new useful information on the levels of antibiotic resistance in the region and will form a basis for international and governmental organisations and policy makers to make evidence-based decisions. Some countries have already informed that they will adjust their national guidelines in line with the project’s recommendations.
However, we cannot and we are not going to rest on laurels. We all understand that there are tasks and challenges ahead. Our Partnership is one of the many regional collaborative networks and sometimes we are competing for the attention of governments and experts, whose resources are limited and need to be prioritized. Therefore we need to show a clear added value and impact of our work. When relevant, we will join our forces with other organizations and networks. Many of them already are our Partner organizations, including the World Health Organization, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers and others. We hope that the on-going NDPHS evaluation financed by the EU will provide some useful insights and will inform the development of the new NDPHS strategy, which will replace the current NDPHS Strategy 2020.  
The scope of the new strategy is not defined yet. We will look into priorities of our Partners, as well as the internationally agreed targets, such as Sustainable Development Goals, to formulate our own strategy. However, already now there is one area that has emerged as a strong Partnership’s priority for the coming years. It is health of senior citizens. All the Partners in the NDPHS are experiencing growth in the number and proportion of older persons with implications for all sectors of society. Health systems are poorly aligned with the needs of the increased number of older persons they now serve and efficient policies are needed to mitigate the pressure on national budgets. 
This NDPHS is working on developing an umbrella project that will contribute to the process of advancing health and well-being of people in their older age and ensuring enabling and supportive environments for that. The unique method of cooperation within the Partnership where experts and policy makers engage in a direct dialogue, would be a key foundation to make this joint ambition to become a reality.
At the end of this year ministers responsible for health will meet in Riga for the Partnership Annual Conference. Defining the priorities of the NDPHS cooperation for the next few years will be among the items on the agenda. From then on, we will have a year of intensive work ahead of us, to prepare the new strategy and decide on the future thematic focus areas and expert-level structures of the Partnership, as the mandates of the seven NDPHS Expert Groups will expire in the end of 2020. 
Thank you for your attention and I will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
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