World Health Organisation to open collaborating centre in Malta

Junior health minister suggests small countries should engage in joint procurement of medicinal products

Parliamentary secretary Chris Fearne addressing the WHO conference in Andorra
Parliamentary secretary Chris Fearne addressing the WHO conference in Andorra

The World Health Organisation will be opening a collaborating centre in Malta focusing on research in health matters in small countries, MaltaToday has learnt.

The setting up of the collaborating centre was proposed by WHO and a proposal has now been put forward for the centre to be opened at the University of Malta within the Island and Small State Institute by 2017.

Parliamentary secretary for health Chris Fearne was in Andorra this week for a meeting of the WHO small countries.

“WHO are recognising Malta’s improvements and innovation in the health sector and are eager to bring similar changes to other countries. The process for establishing Malta as a WHO collaborating centre is well underway and we are very proud of what we have achieved over the past two years,” he said.

Fearne added the Malta was looking forward to share its expertise with other similar-sized countries. “The plan is to have Malta established as a WHO collaborating centre by 2017.”

Hosting a collaborating centre would also mean that Malta is being “recognised as an expert on health matters” in small states opening up opportunities for joint research with other countries.

During his intervention at the WHO conference, Fearne suggested areas of collaboration among small countries. Among others, he proposed exploring methods for joint procurement of medicinal and medical products which would allow better price harmonization and ensure continuity of supply.

Fearne also called for sharing of resources, data and best practices between small nations and highlighted the need for contingency planning.

What is a collaborating centre?

WHO collaborating centres are institutions that form an international collaborative network carrying out activities to support WHO’s programmes at all levels.

Typically, such centres are divisions of national research institutes; departments of universities, laboratories, hospitals or health ministries; or national institutions such as academies.

WHO designates an institution as a collaborating centre for an initial period of four years, which can be renewed as needed.

There are around 800 WHO collaborating centres in over 80 Member States around the world. The 290 collaborating centres in 34 countries in the WHO European Region comprise 36% of the global total.

According to WHO, the countries in the Region hosting the largest numbers of collaborating centres are the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France and the Russian Federation.

The first WHO collaborating centre was the Department of Biological Standardization at the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, originally designated in 1948.

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