Credit: WHO/Antoine Tardy

Luxembourg’s Minister of Health and Social Security, Martine Deprez, recently participated in Portugal's first peer review under the Universal Health and Preparedness Review (UHPR).

This initiative, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), has been supported by Luxembourg since its conception in 2021.

The UHPR is a voluntary and transparent mechanism led by Member States, aimed at establishing regular intergovernmental dialogue on national health emergency preparedness capacities. This innovative platform promotes collective actions at national and global levels, respecting the principles of equal treatment and mutual accountability.

During this review, which took place on Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 February in Geneva, Minister Deprez congratulated Portugal for the “remarkable quality of its report” and the “exemplary work accomplished”, despite the context of the COVID-19 crisis still being significant during the work. This first review, which also covered the national reports from the Central African Republic and Thailand, highlights best practices, gaps and main challenges in health security, health system resilience and universal health coverage.

Martine Deprez highlighted several positive points regarding the response to the crisis in Portugal, in particular the good connections with the relevant international bodies, the desire to adapt the legislative framework and the good functioning of the health system, illustrated in particular by an “excellent” vaccination rate.

The trip to Geneva was also an opportunity to meet Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, for the first time.

On the sidelines of this review, the minister also had the opportunity to hold bilateral interviews. She met with Dr Jérôme Salomon, Deputy Director for Noncommunicable Diseases, Universal Health Coverage and Communicable Diseases at WHO. During this meeting, they shared the analysis that effective universal health coverage is essential while emphasising the importance of better health education to prevent addictions and mental health problems among children and adolescents.

The next day, she had a meeting with Ruth Dreifuss, a member of the World Commission on Drugs, to discuss drug policies, including pilot trials on cannabis in Switzerland.

The Portugal review is of great importance for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Luxembourg’s Ministry of Health and Social Security stressed. The meeting provided a concrete example of methodology for the initial phase of the review and the organisation of a visit for a future review in Luxembourg. Minister Martine Deprez affirmed that Luxembourg will undoubtedly draw inspiration from the methodology used by Portugal for its upcoming review. With this in mind, the minister notably met Margarida Tavares, Secretary of State for Health Promotion of Portugal, for an interview for the planning of the Luxembourg review exercise.