Federal Councillor Burkhalter visits projects in Lithuania and Latvia

Article, 02.08.2013

Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter travelled to Lithuania and Latvia from 29 July to 1 August for working meetings. Among other stops on his schedule, he visited two projects supported by Switzerland as part of its enlargement contribution.

Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter at the children's Hospital
In Lithuania the federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter visited the Vilnius Children's Hospital. © SECO

Mother and child healthcare in Vilnius

In Lithuania, Mr Burkhalter visited the Vilnius Children's Hospital. Switzerland's enlargement contribution to Lithuania is helping to improve conditions for women giving birth and their newborn babies. In the maternity wards of more than 20 hospitals, it is helping to train healthcare professionals, modernise the infrastructure and improve energy efficiency:

• The first set of new medical equipment will be installed in the Vilnius Children's Hospital in August 2013. By 2016, healthcare professionals in the hospital will have attended several training sessions to learn how to use modern technologies. A comprehensive database with patient data is currently under construction.

• To improve energy efficiency and the indoor climate, Lithuania is modernising – with Swiss support – the children hospital's ventilation system, the medical oxygen supply systems and the energy supply. This includes the installation of energy-saving LED lamps. The invitations to tender for the construction and supply contracts, which are necessary to implement the project, have already been issued.

Project description (PDF, Number of pages 2, 591.8 kB, English)

Remediation of brownfield sites in Riga's industrial port

A visit to the brownfield site in Riga's industrial port was on the programme in Latvia. The Soviet Army used the Sarkandaugava district in the 20th century to transport and store petroleum products, which continue to have a major impact on the environment and the health of local residents. Thanks to the Swiss contribution, Latvia can now remediate this brownfield site by pumping the layers of oil off the surface of the water and employing microbiological methods to clean up contaminated soil materials. Latvia's and Switzerland's objective in remediating the area is to improve its water and soil quality and to prevent petroleum products from entering the Daugava River and ultimately the Baltic Sea.

The project is currently in a pilot phase: a company has been commissioned to determine the extent of contamination and to propose potential remediation methods. A Swiss company has been commissioned to monitor and provide advice during the remediation work.