Luxembourg’s Minister of Health and Social Security, Martine Deprez; Credit: SIP / Claude Piscitelli

From Thursday 11 to Friday 12 April 2024, Luxembourg’s Minister of Health and Social Security, Martine Deprez, participated in the tenth high-level meeting of the Small Countries Initiative, held in Limassol, Cyprus.

This event, hosted by the Minister of Health of Cyprus, Michael Damianos, offered small countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) euro region the opportunity to share experiences and good practices and cooperate to achieve common objectives in the field of health, Luxembourg's Ministry of Health and Social Security noted.

It was an opportunity for Minister Deprez to have a first interview with Dr Hans Kluge, Director of the WHO European Region, to discuss a future collaboration strategy between Luxembourg and the WHO regional office.

The fight against cancer in small countries was one of the topics on the meeting’s agenda. In her speech during the “Beating Cancer in Small Countries” panel, the minister recalled the measures in place in Luxembourg, both in the area of prevention and in that of treatment. She also insisted on the active role of the patient in their care journey: “For several years, patient organisations have been implementing the patient-partner concept in hospitals. Their testimonies are of great value to policymakers in their efforts to improve the care pathway for patients.”

As a donor that facilitated the relocation of the WHO Europe office for noncommunicable diseases from Moscow to Copenhagen, Luxembourg is also participating in strategic exchanges with other donor countries to intensify prevention efforts concerning the factors risks such as the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and foods high in fat and sugar or the lack of physical activity.

Minister Deprez also spoke in a panel on strategic planning to combat shortages of health professionals, where she advocated for awareness of the great added value of health professions, in particular through better education on health. According to the ministry, in a third roundtable discussion on the effects of climate change on health, the minister examined Luxembourg's efforts to reduce emissions from the health sector.

The meeting was also an opportunity to welcome a new member to the small countries’ initiative in the WHO European region: with the accession of Moldova, the initiative now has twelve member countries.