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A new agreement between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Welsh Government has been launched, cementing Wales’s commitment to working more closely with the international organisation to tackle health equity and ensuring prosperity for all.

First published:
4 November 2020
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Supported by Public Health Wales and NHS Wales, the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ formalises the positive and developing relationship with WHO, confirming Wales as a country with much to contribute to the health equity and rights agenda, and more widely.

Following the official signing of the agreement, a virtual meeting took place today [Wednesday 4 Nov] between the organisations to further discuss their partnership work, including to identify and overcome the common challenges facing society prior to and after the effects of COVID-19.

The memorandum also sets out a common agreement of the need for investment in health and well-being, the essential conditions for achieving the highest possible level of health, sustainable development and prosperity for all people in Wales.

The Welsh Government have a number of health-related schemes with equality at their fore, such as free prescriptions for every Welsh resident and free parking at every hospital. Wales is also the first country to establish its own Health Equity Status Report initiative (HESRi), joining an alliance for health equity.
Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services said:

Here in Wales we are fully committed to achieving sustainable prosperity, within our borders and beyond. Wales, like most countries, experiences inequalities in health but we are determined to build a healthier Wales for all.

Having our hard work recognised by the World Health Organization is a true testament to the hard-work and grit of the people of Wales who are continually working for equality for our nation.

Dr Hans Kluge, Regional Director, WHO Regional Office for Europe said:

What kind of place would you like to grow up in, have a family and grow old? Through its focus on building people’s resilience, and strengthening health and livelihood systems, Wales has taken an approach that can deliver healthy and cohesive places for all people to prosper and flourish, today and for future generations.

The learning from Wales on how to make this happen in practice will contribute to fulfilling my vision for health across the WHO European Region, through the European Programme of Work.

With this agreement between the Welsh Government and WHO, I look forward to supporting the delivery of health, sustainable development and prosperity to the people of Wales, and learning from these innovative approaches to strengthen health equity across Europe in the years to come.

Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales, said:

Health inequalities exist in our society, and the effect of the global Novel Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these inequalities with serious long-term consequences on population health, especially so for the most vulnerable groups in society.

These harms are felt either directly through the disease, or indirectly through the effects of the economic challenges, job losses, continuing uncertainty and its impact on mental well-being, and the anxiety for people in engaging with health services.

Through our WHO Collaborating Centre, we have worked closely with our colleagues in the WHO for the last few years and this MoU comes at an extremely important time as we move swiftly to mitigate the broader health impacts of the coronavirus and learn together in doing so.

It also marks a further strengthening of Wales’s relationship with the WHO. In partnerships with Welsh Government, we will work collaboratively on the agreed work plan to optimise health and well-being and improve health equity in these challenging times.