Opening of European Ministerial Conference on Health Promotion

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Belarus fully supports the initiatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) and makes every effort to implement them. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement in his speech during the European ministerial conference on the life-course approach to health promotion in the context of the Health 2020 policy framework on 21 October.

The event was dedicated to the new WHO policy Health 2020. It is a large-scale action plan aimed at preventing the spread of infectious diseases. According to the President, it is important to have efficient solutions and research activities that give positive results in increasing the lifespan and improving the quality of life.

“The health of the nation is the main asset of any state and the basis of its prosperity,” stressed the President.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that on its part Belarus may offer to the international community its experience in addressing a number of issues such as the minimization of the Chernobyl catastrophe impact, the development of medical centers, ensuring maximum access to medical institutions and other ones.

“Our domestic policy is based on the construction of the socially-oriented state. It is of utmost importance especially for our region after the collapse of the Soviet Union when we all rushed to develop the market economy forgetting about people,” said the Belarusian leader.

According to the head of state, healthcare, education and affordable housing are the areas that take into account people’s interests, determine the quality of life and form the human capital. In his words, they are the vital factors in securing concord in the society and stability in any state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus has had to do a lot for it. He also mentioned the difficult period the country lived through in the 1990s, the time when Belarus gained sovereignty. Back then the physical infrastructure of the healthcare system was weakened as well as its personnel and financial support, with a wide gap in the access to qualified medical aid in regions. This could not but affect the demographic situation in the country. The President stressed that Belarus, despite all its economic difficulties, has put considerable financial resources in addressing social issues in the first place.

In his words, significant funds are allocated for the healthcare in the country on an annual basis. In 2014 the healthcare sector received nearly 6% of the GDP. Considerable resources are allocated by sponsors as well. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, these efforts have helped build more than 130 medical facilities during the ongoing five-year period. Besides, the development of 17 national research centers of the country has been completed in recent years.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the preservation and promotion of the health of citizens is a strategic priority in Belarus.

The head of state noted with regret that the economic losses associated with the sickness rate of able-bodied citizens, disability and mortality are still high. "The impact of such risk factors as smoking, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, unbalanced diet and stress lead to the development of non-communicable diseases, but they are preventable," said the Belarusian leader.

With the support of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, taking into account the international best practices, the measures have been developed to combat non-communicable diseases, the President informed. "We invest heavily in disease prevention. We work to improve the living conditions, insure employees against accidents,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that work is in progress in Belarus to prevent and control non-communicable diseases through the introduction of principles of healthy lifestyle and elimination of risk factors. Belarus has achieved positive results in the fight against smoking. An active campaign is underway to prevent alcoholism and narcotics consumption, with special emphasis on youth. "Care for the younger generation is the key to a successful future and sustainable development of the country. It is very important that young women and young men actively participate in the development of society, have high moral values and necessarily go in for sports," said the Belarusian leader.

The head of state stressed that for Belarus it is an obvious fact the health of a nation depends directly on the level of physical development. He pointed out that the country seeks to achieve the ambitious goal: to involve 30-40% of the population in sport and to make the healthy lifestyle the hallmark of Belarus. Therefore the country has been taking systematic effort to promote it.

Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that the state also takes care of the elderly, creating all conditions for their long, healthy, active and creative life.
The government policy in Belarus prioritizes the health of mothers and children. The President said that effective measures have been taken in the country, greatly improving medical and demographic figures.

The head of state pointed out the vigorous advance of high technologies in the healthcare industry. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that a network of medical centers is available. The centers use state-of-the-art approaches to prevention, diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation, thus enabling complex operations from heart surgery to the transplantation of organs and tissues.

Apart from that, Belarusian pharmaceutical enterprises are being modernized and start making new medications.

Close attention is also paid to improving the training of medical personnel. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted with satisfaction that the Belarusian education system, not only medical education, is popular among foreign citizens.

The Belarusian healthcare system follows the policy of modernization and technological innovations. Quality, effectiveness, and safety of medical services are the main priorities.

The President stressed that Belarus would not be able to secure these accomplishments without assistance from the leading nations — Russia, the USA, Germany, Austria, other Western countries, which specialists came to Belarus to share their best practices and help learn the operation of cutting-edge equipment. Aleksandr Lukashenko said he was grateful for the assistance.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Diseases know no borders. This is why we have to fight them together, helping each other to come up with effective, preemptive actions. It is always easier and more productive to work together.”

In his opinion, European nations face similar problems that need close attention. The problems include aging population, falling birth rate, worsening environmental factors, man-caused catastrophes, epidemics, terrorism and local wars as well as some social phenomena. “It is difficult to fight these problems on one’s own,” stressed the Belarus President. All over the world non-communicable diseases take lives of active able-bodied citizens. Their negative effect on the society is as bad as political and economic crises.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said he believes that the resulting document of the conference — the Minsk Declaration — will become an important instrument for implementing the WHO European policy framework Health 2020. “The accomplishment of the framework’s three tasks – act in advance, act on time, and act together — will allow securing a positive effect in increasing the life span and the quality of life of people,” noted the head of state.

Addressing participants of the conference, Aleksandr Lukashenko said he hopes that their knowledge, experience, and professionalism will be in demand only in conditions of peace and creativity. “May this conference become the guarantee of the openness of our countries, of the readiness to share experience, of the common dedication to preserving and improving the health of the current generation and future ones,” stressed the President.