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Address by Minister of Health Janez Poklukar on the occasion of World Health Day

On the occasion of this year’s World Health Day, the World Health Organization is putting health inequities at the forefront under the slogan "Let’s build a fairer, healthier world for everyone". The emphasis is on achieving the highest level of health, which is a fundamental right of every human being without regard to race, religion, political belief, or economic or social condition.

The World Health Organization calls for the monitoring of health inequities and for efforts to provide universal access to quality health services tailored to the needs and values of the community.

In Slovenia, health inequities have been monitored since 2011. The health of the entire population had significantly improved over the decade before the COVID-19 epidemic, with Slovenia ranking alongside developed countries in terms of both achievements and challenges. This is one of the important achievements of our healthcare system that we can indeed be proud of.

Unfortunately, we note that also in Slovenia, the health of population groups with a higher socio-economic status has improved faster, which means that individuals from different socio-economic groups reach their health potential to varying degrees. Factors such as education, employment, income, social security and social networks have an impact on lifestyles, risk factors, use of health and other services, and, consequently, morbidity, mortality and life expectancy.

The new coronavirus has reminded us that diseases do not discriminate by gender, race or religious belief, nor do they care about social or societal status. This virus also does not care about the inequities between us.

The COVID-19 epidemic has deeply affected every aspect of our lives. We do not know all its dimensions yet, but it will undoubtedly have a more negative impact on those population groups that were already vulnerable and more exposed to the disease. We will also have to pay special attention to this in the post-epidemic exit strategy.

In Slovenia, we have accessible and high-quality healthcare, and as Health Minister I will do everything in my power to preserve it and improve it further.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, all patients were provided with the necessary medical care, and our healthcare system proved to be working excellently in this crisis situation. But after the pandemic, we will have new challenges ahead of us. The circumstances of the last year have left consequences on mental health, which will require enhanced action in this area. We will also have to pay full attention to the prevention and control of chronic diseases, including cancer, as information on lifestyle factors having an impact on these diseases show that they have deteriorated.

By strengthening healthcare at the primary level, we will provide comprehensive healthcare that responds to the needs of the people, including the most vulnerable. All good practices in prevention activities that include the most vulnerable groups will be fully reinvigorated after the epidemic.

Let this year’s slogan bring us together in the common fight against the new coronavirus and remind us of the importance of solidarity and compassion for our fellow human beings. I would like to thank all the healthcare professionals and colleagues who have demonstrated over the past year that there are no inequities between us, as well as all those who, by respecting the anti-coronavirus measures, have helped our hospitals to be able to provide treatment to all those who needed it.