Representative of the World Health Organization: Kaunas Is on the Right Track

What to do to make the residents of Kaunas city and the whole region healthier? Authoritative national and foreign health specialists are meeting in the temporary capital of Lithuania to answer this question. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that it is going to organize an annual conference “Healthy European Regions” in Kaunas this September.

Social and economic disparities among people, excessive alcohol consumption and low medical literacy – these three crucial health problems of today were pointed out by Francesco Zambon, the Senior Coordinator of the WHO “Healthy European Regions” who is visiting Lithuania this week. In the discussion with politicians, health specialists and communities’ representatives, the guest shared the world experience and discussed the concerns of Kaunas region municipalities actively participating in the programme “Healthy European Regions”.

“Kaunas has always been an active participant of this network. The achievements are already clearly visible and it is very important that health initiatives do not stand still but continue to move forward. We highly appreciate the input of the city and the whole region in preparation of the coming conference and are grateful for that,” the WHO representative F. Zambon said in the meeting with Kaunas Mayor Mr. Visvaldas Matijošaitis.

Prof. Dr. Dainius Pavalkis, the Mayor’s Social Advisor for Education and Health states that the WHO is the one to dictate to the whole world the trends and show the mainstream directions of health improvement.

“We are happy that Kaunas region reflects these trends and is actively following these guidelines. In contrast to hospitals and medical doctors associations, we are not talking here about solutions to treatment problems, but rather about the preventative measures and healthy lifestyle. Protecting public health, giving impulse to sport, healthy and active leisure is far more effective and even cheaper than belated treatment of heart diseases or other health disorders,” Prof. Dr. D. Pavalkis emphasised.

Mr. Pavalkis agreed with F. Zambon’s statements that regional development is directly related to the public health; therefore, the greatest impact of the implementation of the WHO recommendations is noticed on a regional, not a national scale. Talking about the perspectives of Kaunas region, the participants of the discussion saw broad possibilities and potential regarding the improvement of public health indicators.

According to Prof. Dr. D. Pavalkis, Kaunas may be considered the initiator of disease prevention in Lithuania. According to him, even during the Soviet times the city medical doctors used to take part in prevention programmes on an international level.

“I may state that it is particularly here where a public health issue was launched. This has been successfully continued up till present days. Network of hospitals fostering health has been founded; more and more attention is being paid to the construction and renovation of cycling routes, sports playgrounds and stadiums. It is an important part of the processes directed at the improvement of the public health. I am sure that the city municipality will continue to implement these objectives in the future as well,” Prof. Dr. D. Pavalkis said.

The annual conference on the movement “Healthy European Regions” coordinated by the World Health Organization will take place in Kaunas region on September 22-23 of this year.