On 2 June 2022, through its Small Countries Initiative, World Health Organization Europe (WHO/Europe) launched a new roadmap, a technical document detailing strategic actions for improving health and well-being in small countries by 2025.
The technical document has reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has tested governments and the resilience of health systems over the past two years, however the impact on smaller countries have been significantly different from those of larger countries, with smaller countries facing a shortage of health workers, inequitable access to medicines and vaccines, and an increase in noncommunicable diseases and mental health problems. Social and economic development has also been delayed through the suspension of tourism and restrictions on movement, putting a significant burden on the domestic resources of smaller countries.
The roadmap, developed with input from small countries, responds to their need to strengthen their strained health systems and lays out a series of actions to guide them in the years to come, in preparing for, and responding to, future health emergencies and improving overall health and well-being.
The roadmap aims to support small countries in placing health and well-being high on key political agendas, advocating their needs at the regional and international levels, promoting investment in health and measuring progress towards inform future decisions. The roadmap further stresses that enhanced political, technical and resource-related cooperation is needed to transform primary health care, increase human resources for health, ensure longer-term sustainable health financing, and improve access to medicines, mental health services and innovative digital health.
The Small Countries Initiative is an active network of 11 small countries across the WHO European Region that provides a forum for innovation, enabling members to jointly address common issues unique to small countries. Most recently, given the impact of COVID-19 on small countries in particular, the focus of the initiative has been on identifying the most immediate areas of need, as well as short-term priorities for action towards a fair recovery, acting on shared priorities concerning national health plans, using the European Programme of Work as an overarching policy framework, and disseminating good practice.
Source: WHO/Europe, 2 June 2022