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Establishment of a WHO regional office in Cyprus

27/01/2023 14:36

Our collaboration today goes from strong to stronger said Hans Kluge, Director for WHO Europe, during the signing ceremony, Friday, for the establishment of a WHO regional office in Cyprus.

The office is set to start operating in a few weeks and is located temporarily at Livadia, Larnaka district, until a permanent building is found in the city of Larnaka.

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides was present at the signing ceremony and his assistance and contribution in realizing the vision of a WHO office in Cyprus was praised by Kluge and Minister of Health Michalis Hadjipantela.

We want this office to be the best in the world, said the Health Minister speaking of an important agreement that will give Cyprus an active role in the region. Hadjipantela said that the new project underway is for Shriners Hospital’s doctors to examine children from Ukraine who have orthopedic problems, in the framework of the cooperation with Cyprus. 

Hadjipantela said that we want to have a role in the region and internationally, adding that we have the people and the will to achieve this.

Kluge said that the agreement constitutes a critical chapter in the long standing relationship between WHO and Cyprus which he described as a country at a strategic position.

He said that we learned critical lessons from the pandemic which showed to the whole world that global solidarity and partnership could put countries in track in managing with crises and strengthen the health services and infrastructure.

The WHO official said that when the next health crisis arrives, we must be ready to continue offering health services uninterrupted.

Kluge praised Cyprus for taking swift measures during the pandemic crisis adding that the region can learn a lot from Cyprus. He added that he will meet with other WHO officials in Geneva soon to draft the action plan for the office on the island, which can be the platform between Africa, Mideast and Europe and which can promote inter-regional cooperation and collaboration.

He also said that Cyprus can share best practices as it has the highest life expectancy in the region. Kluge closed his remarks in Greek with the ancient saying “start is half of the whole’’.

Kluge and Hadjipantelas were asked by reporters about the pandemic and the next steps and whether we are ready to declare the end of the pandemic.

Cyprus' Health Minister said that we monitor the situation globally but of course we are mostly aware of what is happening in Cyprus and the situation is pretty good.

He said that cases and hospitalisations are decreasing adding that WHO is the one to say if the pandemic is over. He reiterated that we must observe personal hygiene measures and advised vulnerable groups and people over 60 to get the booster vaccine for COVID and the flu vaccine.

Kluge said that we are faced with a much improved situation, adding that there is optimism but vigilance at the same time.

He said that we must protect the vulnerable citizens and advised all to get the booster shot, to wear a face mask in crowded places and to stay at home if they feel sick and have symptoms. Kluge also noted the importance of good ventilation.

He also said that WHO officials will meet soon to see whether they could end the situation of urgent concern for COVID globally.