Press Release - Cooperation needed for a Europe Closer to its Neighbours in the field of Health
05.07.2012, 18:06 (CET)
The need for further development of the capacity for effective protection and control of cross border health threats at a regional level was highlighted at today’s Conference of experts organised by the Cyprus EU Presidency. The event, hosted by the Cyprus Ministry of Health and entitled “Cross Border Health Threats in the EU and its Neighbouring Countries- focus on Communicable Diseases”, took place on July 5, 2012, at the ‘Filoxenia’ Conference Centre in Lefkosia (Nicosia).

In line with the Cyprus Presidency priority to work towards a Europe which is closer to its neighbours, the Conference on Communicable Diseases welcomed experts from the EU27, as well as from Croatia, the European Economic Area, the southern European Neighbouring Region and the Health Network of South Eastern Europe.

With this in mind, the Conference highlighted the role of the Union as an effective channel of communication as well as a means of strengthening mechanisms for prevention, early warning and effective control of communicable diseases in the broader European area.  

The discussion focused on the importance of close cooperation and interactive communication between and among Member States and their neighbouring countries, as well as on the role of epidemiological training of health professionals for developing the capacity of EU Member States and their neighbours, to respond efficiently and effectively in cases of cross-border transmission of diseases.

Previous experiences and best practices in the areas of prevention, surveillance, early warning, effective control and treatment of infectious diseases at regional level were particularly discussed. Moreover, possible ways of reinforcing the existing practices were suggested.

There were also deliberations on other related issues, such as cross-border transmission of multidrug resistant microbes and the possible effects of the economic crisis on the preparedness and response to cross-border health threats in both the EU and its neighbouring countries.

"Infectious diseases do not need a passport"

Dr. Stavros Malas, Minister of Health of Cyprus, highlighted the importance of the Conference, stressing that distinguished guests in the field of epidemiology of communicable diseases and Public Health from EU relevant institutions, the WHO and Member States have presented and discussed the challenges and risks posed to the EU and its neighbouring countries as with regards to cross border transmission of communicable diseases.

“The experiences of past years have taught us that infectious diseases do not need either a passport or any other travelling documents to cross the borders from one country to the other. Therefore, cooperation between countries is a prerequisite for effective treatment,” Mr. Malas said.

At his closing remarks, the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumers, Mr John Dalli, stressed that it is extremely important to have a global vision, adding that international collaboration is essential in order to effectively fight against cross border threats.

He referred to EU initiatives in order to boost health security and underlined that the EU Commission has put forward a Proposal on Health Security, currently discussed at EU Parliament and at the Council. This Proposal aims to improve the capacity of EU Member States to prepare for a health crisis, effectively respond to cross border threats and to create a basis for monitoring, notification and scientific assessment of cross border threats as well as to reinforce the cooperation between Member States and its neighbouring countries.


Chief Health Officer
Olga Kalakouta

Ministry of Health
European Affairs Unit Coordinator
Telephone: +35722605323
Communications Officer
Demetris Constantinou

Ministry of Health

Telephone: +35722605386
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