In March 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated a WHO Collaborating Centre on Investment for Health and Well-being (WHO CC) at Public Health Wales. It is the first one in this area of expertise globally, joining a network of over 800 collaborating centres in more than 80 countries. It focuses on how best to invest in better health, reduce inequities and build stronger communities and systems in Wales, Europe and worldwide, while also driving social, economic and environmental sustainability and prosperity for all.

The WHO CC is working closely with the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development in Venice, Italy (the Venice Office), towards achieving healthy prosperous lives for all. A formal WHO Venice Office visit to Wales (Chris Brown, Head, WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development and Tatjana Buzeti, Policy Officer, Multisectoral Approaches for Health Equity, WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development) took place on the 8th and 9th of April in Cardiff.

The WHO Delegation had a rich programme, meeting with the First Minister for Wales; the Minister for Health and Social Services; and the Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language. They also met with the Director for Health and Social Services / NHS Chief Executive; the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and the Chief Nursing Officer for Wales / Nurse Director of NHS Wales; as well as with cross-sector partners, such as the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, the Chief Executive of the Welsh local Government association and the Police and Crime Commissioner for the South Wales Police.

The visit has raised Wales’ profile and positioned us as a leading European nation, showing our political commitment, legislative and policy innovations, practical implementation and scientific expertise towards achieving healthy prosperous lives for all. The synergies between the Welsh and the WHO European health and equity agendas have been recognised, opening further opportunities. Wales has been invited to become one of a few ‘influencer’ countries, part of a European Alliance and a Solutions Platform for Health Equity, developing and testing live policy and governance innovations; and inspiring other countries. Also, Wales has the opportunity to be one of the first countries to pilot a Health Equity Status Report (HESR) methodology, developed by WHO and providing robust tailored data, policy analysis and recommendations on how to progress health equity.

Wales is also invited to have a central role in the WHO European High Level Health Equity Conference in Slovenia, Ljubljana, in June; and the 69th WHO Regional Committee for Europe in Denmark, Copenhagen in September. Both occasions, will give the opportunity to showcase Wales’ commitment and progress towards people’s wellbeing, equity and sustainable development; and supporting the first WHO European Resolution on Healthy Prosperous Lives for All.