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UN agency and European Commission join forces to fight health threats

UN agency and European Commission join forces to fight health threats

Dr. Brundtland
Officials from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission met today in Brussels to advance their joint efforts to tackle tobacco and other health threats.

The WHO Director-General, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, and Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne discussed joint strategies to address a wide range of health issues, including combating smoking, fighting against communicable diseases, and promoting nutrition and food safety, according to WHO. Dr. Brundtland also met with a number of other European Commissioners to discuss cooperation in areas such access to medicines and research.

Stressing the value of partnership, Mr. Byrne said the meetings served to focus the efforts of the Commission and WHO, which both had roles to play. "Working together has a multiplying effect," he observed. "We share goals, better health for all, we are natural allies and it makes sense to pursue these objectives together."

The Commissioner cited in particular joint work to establish a globally binding Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. "This strengthens our own anti-smoking initiatives within the European Union," he said.

For her part, Dr. Brundtland hailed the European position in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on compulsory licenses for developing countries with limited or no manufacturing capacity. She and Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy issued a joint statement on the need for WTO members to find a sustainable, balanced, and workable solution for these countries.

"Health care providers and consumers in the poorest countries need the lowest possible prices to make essential medicines affordable to all," they said. "We call for continued efforts by the international community, governments, research-based companies and generic pharmaceutical producers to achieve this on a sustainable basis."