Open Letter to the European Health Community


20 November 2009

Dear colleagues and friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to this ‘transition process' website, which is one element of a formal and informal process I am initiating to explore ways of adapting the WHO Regional Office for Europe to the changing European environment. I am launching this site to share with you my vision for the WHO European Office and, importantly, to hear your views and suggestions about this vision and a number of priority action issues.

I am convinced there is tremendous scope to further strengthen the WHO European Office as a centre of public health excellence and innovation, so that it can more effectively support all its Member States. Indeed, health and health security have never been in sharper focus. Growing inequities in health both within and between countries in the Region, the changing demographic and social landscape in Europe, the current H1N1 pandemic, the economic crisis, climate change, the NCD epidemic are but a few of today's health challenges. These are not ‘business as usual' times for all those concerned with health issues in general and public health issues in particular. These challenges in an increasingly globalized world demand new ways of advocating, managing and responding to health and public health issues at all levels. I believe EURO has a key role to play in addressing these challenges, both as a proactive leader and a robust partner when joint actions are needed. Importantly, we need to strengthen our ability to adapt effectively and efficiently to rapidly changing environments and take full advantage of the collective wisdom, experience and know-how of our vast and diverse Region. To this end I need your help and advice.

On this website I pose a series of questions about priority health issues and actions that the Regional Office can take to support Member States' efforts to protect and promote health and address current health challenges. My aim is to hear what you have to say, stimulate discussion and debate and, most importantly, provide the health community in Europe and beyond with an opportunity to actively engage in our efforts to improve the health of all citizens in the European Region. From February 2010 this will continue as part of a formal WHO consultation process which will inform and shape a ‘Way Forward' strategy that I plan to present to the Standing Committee of the Regional Committee and then to the Regional Committee in Moscow in September 2010.

Dear colleagues, these are indeed landmark times for health, but together I know we can craft a strategy and take collective action that can affect and improve Europe's health. Together we can help build a healthier, safer, fairer and greener reality across the WHO European Region and beyond.

Please join me in these endeavors and share your views and ideas about the questions posed below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Zsuzsanna Jakab
Regional Director-Elect


Read the complete vision statement and open questions (PDF) and leave your responses to Regional Director-Elect Jakab's open questions on leadership, governance, partnership, the Regional Office, and priorities below.




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