by WHO Europe
A joint task force has been established by WHO/Europe and the Central European Initiative (CEI) to respond to COVID-19 and step up regional coordination to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
Comprising key health officials from the 17 CEI member states, the task force will serve as a strategic platform for updating member states, exchanging information, and sharing experiences, best practices and training. The goal of the task force is to encourage a coherent response and anticipate any unfavourable consequences that may stem from the pandemic, while shifting towards easing of restrictions and recovery.
With the CEI Executive Secretariat providing coordination and support, and WHO/Europe contributing scientific advice to the discussions, the twice monthly meetings will serve as a forum for CEI countries to express their needs and priorities, and establish common understanding of internationally recommended strategies that are rooted in science and are evidence-based.
Health at the centre of recovery
During the coming weeks, the task force is set to focus on economic and socioeconomic recovery, the recovery of health systems and safe easing of restrictions. Working groups will be set up as needed to help outline the functions and priorities of the task force, taking a closer look at thematic areas, such as COVID-19 implications for border management and tourism as summer approaches.
The importance of keeping health at the centre of socioeconomic recovery, identifying and evaluating potential risks during the transition phase, easing restrictions safely, and preventing the virus from resurging was stressed by Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, in his address to the member states during the Extraordinary Virtual Meeting of CEI Heads of Government on 15 May 2020.
Through the task force, WHO/Europe, the CEI Executive Secretariat, the countries in the region and experts in various health fields will work together to equip the member states with robust mechanisms to tackle common challenges and strengthen their COVID-19 response, with tangible results for the entire region.