WHO shuts down its Moscow regional office

The World Health Organization announced on Monday, May 15, that its European members had decided to close a regional office in Moscow. This decision was made in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022.

Since last year, WHO member states of Europe have been debating moving its European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (EORNC) away from Russia.

When contacted for comment on the choice, the Russian diplomatic mission in Geneva did not answer right away.

According to an email from the UN agency, the move was approved by a majority vote at a special meeting of the WHO’s Europe office on Monday. The proposal said that no later than January 1, 2024, the office would be transferred to Copenhagen, Denmark.

At the summit, Tajikistan, a close ally of Russia, proposed moving the office there rather than to Denmark, but the majority of the participants decided against it.

According to diplomats who previously spoke to Reuters, the closing of the Moscow office was designed as a political move to bolster Western efforts to isolate Russia and is not anticipated to hurt Russia’s health or the direction of global health policy.

In the 53-country WHO European area, non-communicable diseases including diabetes and cancer are the main cause of death.

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