The OTS is the first international organization to hold a Summit on COVID-19 pandemic at the level of Heads of States on the global scale. At the Summit, the Heads of States put a special emphasis on need of a close cooperation with the WHO.The OTS has been in close contact with the World Health Organization (WHO) since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Director General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered a speech at the Extraordinary Video Summit of the OTS held on 10 April 2020. WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Kluge also delivered speeches at the Meeting of the Ministers of Health of the OTS on 28 April 2020 and at 4th Meeting of the Health Scientific Group of the Organization on 30 October 2020.
OTS in its turn for the first time participated as a partner at the 70th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe on 14 September 2020 and the Secretary General delivered a statement emphasizing support to the proposal of WHO European Regional Office to unite efforts of regional multilateral institutions and mechanisms around health as one of the key objectives of the European Programme of Work (2020–2025) – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”.
The Secretary General and WHO Regional Director with the aim of putting the relations between the two organizations into an institutionalized framework and establishing the legal basis for future engagements signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 11 September 2020.
To discuss the cooperation opportunities, as well as to develop an Action Plan between the OTS and WHO on the basis of the MOU signed between the two organizations, the Secretary General visited the Regional Office for Europe of WHO in Copenhagen on 30 November-1 December 2020.
The parties reaffirmed their determination and solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic as well as in implementation of the MOU and European Program of Work for 2020–2025.
They also agreed to organize online training programs for health professionals, to accelerate implementation of the International Health Regulation (2005), to improve high vaccination coverage, conduct capacity building for data and health information systems, strengthen digital health in primary health as well as together with the WHO Representatives in the Member and Observer States’s capitals to start procedures of designating new WHO Collaboration Centers.
As a result of the close cooperation between the two organizations, Prof. Dr. Emine Alp Meşe, Deputy Minister of Health of the Republic of Turkey and the Chair of the OTS Health Scientific Group also contributes to the work of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development as the representative of the Organization.
The Parties are currently working on finalizing the draft Action Plan for the implementation of the MOU and planning to start putting it into practice.