Urgent response is needed to stop demographic decline in Europe but the problem needs to be resolved by strengthening family policies instead of migration, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a World Health Organisation (WHO) European regional committee meeting on Monday.
Speaking at the opening of the four-day meeting, Orbán said Hungary’s position on mass migration is that it needs to be stopped at the place of origin. Europe has all the means to launch targeted health schemes for areas where they are most needed, he added.
He briefed participants about Hungary’s current action plan for workplace protection, demographics and public health. The first aims to eliminate unemployment because when people have no jobs, they have no self-respect and no vision for the future, which also makes efforts for a healthy lifestyle futile. Full unemployment is within arm’s reach now in Hungary, Orbán added.
The government’s demographics scheme aims to slow down and stop the demographic decline and later to boost the population and ensure biological reproduction. This demographics policy is in the focus of the government’s economic policy, he said.
The public health action plan involves the fight against smoking and unhealthy foods, and the reform of public catering services, Orbán said. He cited figures showing that the number of regular smokers dropped from 28 percent to 19 percent in 2012-2013. The government’s “chips tax” imposed on unhealthy foods is reinvested in the health sector and the turnover from affected products has increased. He added, however, that the results from the reform of public catering services were mixed.
He said daily physical education classes have been introduced in primary schools and that the next task set for public health care was to reduce the number of deaths caused by cancer.
Orbán expressed Hungary’s respect for the WHO and noted that among the criticisms voiced against global institutions, the WHO is never mentioned by critics because it is an organisation that has always been needed and this will remain so.
Hungary stands with the WHO, Orbán said. “You can rely on us and we would like to think that we too can rely on you in the future,” he told the meeting.
As we wrote on August, in the first six months, 0.2 percent more births were recorded than a year earlier, while the number of deaths was 8.5 percent higher than the same period in 2016.
Also very interesintg, according to the United Nations’ 2017 Revision of World Population Prospects report, a quarter of Central and East Europe’s population could vanish by the end of the century unless a big change happens. Hvg.hu writes that even though this is only an estimation, it’s quite shocking that only six million people are expected to live in Hungary by 2100.
Orbán meets WHO chief
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), in Parliament on Monday.
Tedros welcomed Hungary’s public health policy measures such as the fight against smoking, the efforts to promote healthy eating and the introduction of daily physical education classes in schools.
The prime minister said cooperation between Hungary and the WHO was “excellent”, adding that the two sides were keen on continuing their partnership in the future and expanding it with additional joint policy measures.