Minister of Health of Greenland Ms Mimi Karlsen and WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge agreed to strengthen collaboration and information-sharing to benefit the entire WHO European Region, particularly the Arctic, during an official visit by Greenland to WHO/Europe on 28 June 2023.
“As a large country with a small population, we have many health insights and innovations – on digital health services, essential medicines and health service provision in remote communities, for example – that are relevant to other countries, and the wider Arctic region. I am very pleased that we now have a strong basis to advance our collaboration with WHO/Europe over the coming years, and share our expertise through its networks and channels,” said Minister Karlsen.
Dr Kluge commented, “We have much to learn from Greenland and its formidable health workforce. Providing effective, responsive, people-centred services in rural areas, and taking account of environmental pressures from increasing tourism and climate change are issues that many countries in the WHO European Region face.”
He added, “My sincere thanks to Minister Karlsen and her colleagues for taking WHO/Europe’s collaboration with Greenland to the next level. Our work together will not only contribute to improving the health of the 57 000 people living in Greenland; this learning exchange will also extend to the WHO Small Countries Initiative of 11 small European states, and beyond.”
This collaboration will cover several priority health areas, aiming to support implementation of the recommendations of the Greenland Health Commission, which were made public this past May. Areas of collaboration could include the health workforce, mental health, tobacco control, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections, and immunization. This work will tap into WHO/Europe’s European Programme of Work flagship initiatives on digital health and behavioural and cultural insights.
The Greenland delegation headed by Minister Karlsen included Mr Nike Berthelsen, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health; Ms Aka Olesen, Divisional Director, Ministry of Health; Dr Henrik Hansen, Chief Medical Officer; and Dr Christina Viskum Larsen, Lead, Centre for Public Health in Greenland, University of Southern Denmark.
Greenland’s visit to WHO/Europe followed a high-level mission by Dr Kluge and Dr Søren Brostrøm, Director-General of the Danish Health Authority and member of WHO’s Executive Board, to Greenland in March 2023.