Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

Welcome Message 2017

As we get older, we naturally become more conscious of our health. This year the European Union celebrated its 60th birthday - a time both for celebration and reflection on the health of our Union.

The good news is that Europeans are living longer than ever before. Life expectancy has risen by a decade for both men and women in the last fifty years. That is in large part thanks to the progress we have made in healthcare standards, investment in prevention and welfare and pioneering research enabling breakthroughs in the fight against disease and illness.

However, as this year's World Health Summit themes show, there is no room for complacency when it comes to tackling the new and urgent health challenges facing Europe and the rest of the world. Poverty, rising inequalities and migration flows are all issues which have a significant impact on global health. Ensuring that as many citizens of the world have access to healthcare is a responsibility for us all. The same goes for research into prevention, sustainable development and understanding the health impact of an older and more urban population.

That shows the true importance of the World Health Summit as a hub for expertise, innovation and cooperation. Here in Europe we are committed to leading the way. This year we brought together networks of medical experts and hospitals in 26 countries to ensure that as many of the 30 million people in the EU suffering from 8,000 rare diseases each year have access to the specialised care and treatment they need. We also signalled our strong and unequivocal commitment to promoting vaccination as a driving force for improved health in Europe and the wider world.

Our joint resolve to protect the health and wellbeing of all of our citizens now and in the future is stronger than ever. As with every year, the World Health Summit is a key milestone in our efforts. I urge you all to make the most of the week and wish you a successful event full of healthy discussions.