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Population decline calls for urgent response

In the context of mass migration, Mr. Orbán said, Hungary takes the view that trouble must be dealt with where it has emerged, and “we would only increase trouble by taking a share of it upon ourselves”. Europe has everything it needs to launch targeted healthcare programmes in the regions that are most in need of them, he argued.

Photo: Gergely Botár

The Prime Minister gave the attendees an overview of the job protection, demographic and healthcare action plans currently being implemented in Hungary. The purpose of the first of these is to eliminate unemployment, because if there is no work, there is no self-esteem, there is no vision, and there are no children; and in such circumstances, he said, there will likewise be no point in aspiring to a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, he pointed out, full employment is now almost within reach.

With its demographic programme the Government is seeking to slow down and stop population decline, and to eventually achieve an increase in the population figures and the rate of biological reproduction. Therefore population policy is at the centre of the Government’s economic policy, Mr. Orbán said.

The Prime Minister noted that, as part of the national healthcare action plan, there is an ongoing campaign against smoking and unhealthy foods, while the programme also includes the reform of meals in the public sector. He said that data published in 2014 indicates that achievements include a reduction in 2012–13 in the number people smoking on a regular basis, from 28 per cent to 19 per cent. He also remarked that the proceeds of the “crisps (potato chips) tax” imposed on unhealthy foods are being used within the healthcare system, and sales of products affected by the tax have declined. He added, however, that at present the results of reform of meals in the public sector are mixed.

Photo: Gergely Botár

He also spoke about the system of mandatory daily physical education introduced in elementary schools, pointing out that the next task in health care is to reduce the high number of deaths due to cancerous diseases.

Mr. Orbán expressed Hungary’s appreciation of the World Health Organization, stressing that, unlike many other global institutions, it is never subject to critical comments, which is proof that it has always been needed and will also be needed in the future.

Hungary, he continued, believes that it must protect its freedom “against imperial political aspirations”; however, he stressed that this position does not deny the need for global institutions, but rather seeks to harmonise the supranational level with national sovereignty.

Photo: Gergely Botár

Outlining the Government’s attitude, the Prime Minister told his audience that “Today you are guests of a country that often criticises global institutions, but this criticism does not extend to the WHO. On the contrary: you are in a country which has the utmost appreciation and respect for the WHO.” He pointed out that, as a committed member of the organisation, Hungary stands by the WHO: “you can rely on us – and in the future we, too, would like to rely on you”.