The European Union and Turkey held their first High-Level Dialogue on public health Tuesday to discuss the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to share best health care practices.
EU Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides and Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca originally agreed to meet in Brussels but decided to hold a videoconference instead because of the epidemiological situation.
Kyriakides and Koca “exchanged views on how to enhance cooperation between the EU and Turkey on cross-border health threats as a clear priority, including in the short-term in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the EU institutions said in a statement.
They also agreed to work on shared priorities for mental health, cancer treatment and prevention, and the effects of climate change on health.
“COVID-19 showed beyond any doubt that public health transcends borders,” said Kyriakides, who welcomed the discussions with her Turkish counterpart.
During the meeting, Koca said Turkey has contributed to 160 countries and 14 international organizations since the beginning of the pandemic, and has donated around 2 million doses of vaccine to 11 countries.
He added that Turkey’s efforts continue to donate 10 million vaccine doses through the COVAX facility, a mechanism to get vaccines to less-developed countries.
“(Turkey) has been one of the most prepared countries against the pandemic from the very beginning and is ready to share its experience in this field with all parties,” he said.
“While we are struggling with the pandemic that has affected the whole world for the last two years, we need to keep alive our commitment to combating global problems such as mental health, chronic diseases, and the impact of climate change on health issues as well as their negative effect on economies,” Koca said after the meeting.
He also noted that the talk was a great opportunity to foster cooperation between parties and to support Turkey’s accession process.
Kyriakides and Koca agreed to hold talks again next year, while talks between EU and Turkish officials will continue on the technical level.
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