On the 7th of September the first physical meeting of the HPF’s Health Working Group (HWG) was held in Helsinki, hosted by the Ministry of Health & Social Affairs of Finland. Representatives from eleven countries and international organisations participated in the discussions.

This meeting explored two key questions:

  • How are efforts to strengthen pandemic preparedness developing and are there opportunities to improve cooperation both within the MENA region and with Europe?
  • How can Europe and the MENA region work together more effectively to meet the health needs of those in conflict zones and fragile states?

Participants expressed concern that while a great deal of learning had occurred from Covid-19, the world is still ill-prepared for another pandemic. Talks on a Pandemic Treaty are making progress but are far from finalised. A priority needs to be improving mechanisms for surveillance to better enable the timely reporting of incidents.

The HWG was first established following a High-Level meeting of Ministers of Health on the 19th of April 2021. It brings together senior health officials from across the Gulf-MENA region and Europe to identify how health cooperation between states can be enhanced.