Strengthening response of health systems to pandemics in Commonwealth of Independent States


Representatives of ministries of health of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, health-care experts and representatives of UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) convened to discuss the priorities of CIS countries in addressing new pandemic challenges and other health-care issues in Minsk, Belarus, at the 34th meeting of the Council for Health Cooperation of the CIS.

A memorandum on deepening cooperation between the Council for Health Cooperation of the CIS and the WHO European Office was signed during the meeting. “We are stronger when we are united. A global problem such as the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be solved by national measures only,” said Hans Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe.

Igor Petrishenko, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, noted the importance of joint operational decision-making, “so that there is consistency in the CIS on eliminating and counteracting the spread of COVID-19, as well as continuing vaccination and implementation of the Travelling without COVID-19 app within the CIS.”

The Minister of Health of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Murashko, noted that countering infectious diseases requires ensuring that health systems are stress-resistant. “They must quickly adapt to new challenges,” he stressed.

Alexander Goliusov, Director, a.i., of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, presented the new priorities for the HIV response in the region outlined in the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026: End Inequalities, End AIDS and the new United Nations Political Declaration on AIDS, taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic.

He outlined the directions in the new strategy, on which there is consensus among all the CIS countries, among them: achieving the 95-95-95 targets by 2025, ending inequalities in access to HIV services and health technologies, the active engagement of civil society and community organizations and ensuring the financial sustainability of the HIV response.

Mr Goliusov thanked the Russian Federation, which since 2013 has been providing financial assistance in strengthening health systems and counteracting HIV and other infectious diseases in five countries of the region, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, having allocated more than US$ 49.5 million in financial assistance.

The participants decided to prepare and send to the Government of the Russian Federation a letter recognizing the efforts made under the framework of the regional programme of technical assistance in combating infectious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, as highly effective, noting that they had directly reduced the HIV burden in the region, and requesting the Government of the Russian Federation to consider the continuation of the programme in 2022-2025.

UNAIDS also supported proposals from representatives of the Russian delegation on research on mental health and HIV and on oncological pathology among people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy.

The CIS is a regional intergovernmental organization that was formed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It encourages cooperation in economic, political and military affairs and has certain powers relating to the coordination of trade, finance, law-making and security. The Council for Health Cooperation of the CIS consists of ministers of health and chief state sanitary doctors of the CIS member states. The council maintains relations with WHO, UNAIDS, the World Health Assembly and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

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