Editorials

Does the WHO have a role in Europe?

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7142.1402 (Published 09 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1402

There is more to “Europe” than you might think

  1. Martin McKee, Professor of European public health (m.mckee@lshtm.ac.uk)
  1. European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition (ECOHOST), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    News p 1408

    In 1988 an observer could be forgiven for asking whether the World Health Organisation had any meaningful role in Europe. Indigenous malaria, the classic focus of international health action, had long been eradicated. Non-communicable diseases were increasing but were viewed largely as a matter for individual countries, which were believed to have the capacity to respond. There was little demand for international input into health sector reform because, although East and West pursued different ideologies, no scope existed for constructive dialogue between them. The WHO did support many valuable networks, but some were arguing that this role could be undertaken by the European Union.

    So have things changed? The European region of the WHO covers the same geographical area as it did 10 years ago (though it is easy to forget that this extends from Reykjavik to Vladivostok), but the political environment has changed enormously, bringing huge implications for health in its wake. The most obvious manifestation …

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