Tuesday, June 25, 2013

31st Plenary Meeting of the SEE Health Network takes important decisions

On 20-21 June 2013 the SEE Health Network held its regular 31st Plenary Meeting in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova under the Presidency of Dr. Andrei Usatii, Minister of Health.

The meeting was organized by the SEE Health Network Executive Committee and Secretariat with the excellent and full support by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Moldova.

Over 40 representatives of the 10 countries, Member States of the SEE Health Network and their partners, the Council of Europe, the International Organization for Migration, the Regional Cooperation Council, the International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals and Health Services, Project Hope, the European Health Forum Bad Gadstein, the Regional Center for Policy Analysis and Research "Studiorum", Slovenia, Switzerland and WHO Regional Office for Europe participated actively in the discussions that lead to important deliberations and decisions.

Extended partnerships

The Network signed two new Memoranda of Understanding for collaboration with the International Organization of Migration and with the Regional Center for Policy Analysis and Research "Studiorum". This is an important step forward in the partnership policy and practice for the Network which will further enhance their joint effort to boost up health development in the region.

Report on the SEE Health Network activities during the Presidency of the Republic of Moldova

Dr. Andrei Usatii, Minister of Health, Republic of Moldova, presented the main activities and achievements of the Network in the period 01 January - 30 June 2013. Among all, several major events have to be highlighted:
  1. The Inauguration of the SEE Health Network new Secretariat in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia on 07 March 2013; the fact, by itsself, that the Network already has its own legal entity is a major breakthrough in the development towards full ownership, independence and sustainability of the regional collaboration for better health under the auspices of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC); of course, much more need to be done to have the Secretariat fully operational and the representatives urged the SEE Health Network Governments to complete the process of making their yearly financial contributions as stupulated by the signed memorandum of Understanding of 2008, as well as to facilitated the process of recruiting international staff;

The Representatives expressed their appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Macedonia for their commitment to the establishment of the Secretariat;

The Representatives expressed their sincere gratitude to WHO Regional Office for Europe and specifically to Ms. Zsuzsanna Jacab, Regional Director for the never failing continuous support to the SEE Health Network;

The representatives thanked the ministries of health of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, republic of Moldova and the Republic of Macedonia for transferring their financial contributions for 2013 to the SEEHN Secretarita´s bank account;

The continuous support of Belgium, Slovenia and Switzerland was also highly commended particularly in view of their financial and in-kind support for both the Secretariat and the activities for implemening the Banja Luka Pledge;
The Representative acknowledged highly the pro-active work of the designated Regional Health Development Centres in Albania (on communicable diseases surveillance and control), in Bosnia and Herzegovina (on mental health), in Croatia (on organ transplantation and donation), in the Republic of Moldova (on health workforce) and in the Republic of Serbia (on accreditation and quality of health services).

Health on the political agenda of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy

The 31st Plenary discussed the draft Health Chapter to be incorporated into the Inclusive Growth pillar of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy. The latter is in the process of development under the auspices of the SEE regional Cooperation process and the Regional Cooperation Council and is expected to be endorsed by the SEE Governments in October 2013.

The Health aspects of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy were developed by an ad-hoc SEEHN Working Group with participation of senior experts from Croatia, Romania, WHO Regional Office for Europe and the RCC under the chairmanship of the Chair of the SEEHN Executive Committee. It was based on the findings and defined priorities of a snapshot analysis of the current state of Health Policy development and implementation in all 10 SEEHN Member States. This work was also inspired by the WHO Europe Health 2020 Policy Framework and the European Action PLan on Strengthening Public Health Capacities and Services, endorsed by all 53 European countries during the WHO Europe Regional Committee 62nd Session in September 2012 in Malta.

The Banja Luka Pledge calls for immediate action to introduce Health in All Policies in the region and to strengthen their public health capacities and services with the sole objectives  to reduce health inequities and to prevent and control noncommunicable disease which are the main reasons for the significant shortfalls in health in  SEE . These  have negative effect on the countries economic and social developments as foreseen in the SEE 2020 Strategy, the WHO/Europe Policy “Health 2020” and the EU 2020 Strategy.
In follow-up, the Representatives came to the following:

Decision on the Health Chapter of the South East Europe 2020 Growth Strategy

Recognizing that health is not just a value in itself - it is also a driver for growth; that only a healthy population can achieve its full economic potential; that keeping people healthy and active for longer has a positive impact on productivity and competitiveness; that innovation in healthcare helps take up the challenge of sustainability in the sector in the context of demographic change’, and that action to reduce inequalities in health is important to achieve ‘inclusive growth;

Taking into account the vast amount of global European and our own, SEE Health Network´s, the evidence and significant new knowledge about the complex interrelationship between health and sustainable human development;

Strongly believing that health needs to be transformed from being perceived merely as a medically dominated, money-consuming sector to a major public good bringing economic and security benefits and contributing to attainment of key social objectives as there is now a broad consensus that the health of populations is critical for social coherence and economic growth and a vital resource for human and social development,

Having reviewed the health status and current priorities and discussed ways and means of building concerted political action in the field of prevention and control of the preventable life-style related chronic noncommunicable diseases in the SEE region;

Committed to the Global and European new policies and strategies for health in the 21st Century, and in particular to the EU 2020 Strategy, the WHO Europe Health 2020 Policy, as well as to the thrusts and commitments of the Skopje (2005) and Banja Luka (2011) Pledges;

Commending the SEE Regional Cooperation Process and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) for developing the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy; and

Taking the opportunity of the SEE regional cooperation processes;

We, the Representatives:

·         consider that it is the right time for the SEE Health Network and the Ministries of health of its 10 member States to place health high on the political agenda of the SEE region and each and every Government in the frameworks of sustainable economic development and inclusive growth;

·         believe that new policies to promote health for all in our societies, aligned with improved legislation,  and universal and high quality individual and population-based services would provide the appropriate instruments  to resolve the major health challenges of SEE and raise levels of well being in the region., From a public health point of view, these measures combined will have a positive impact on the populations ´health, productivity, standard of living and, thus, to the overall growth and inclusive development process in this part of Europe.

·         note that existing health system reforms in the region need to be re-assessed and updated in the light of the Council of Europe’s conventions and recommendations on health, human rights and ethics, the European Union Article 152 of the Amsterdam Treaty, the EU Public Health Programme of Work, and the WHO Regional Office Health 2020 Policy and the European Action Plan for Strengthening Public Health Capacities and Services.

·         conclude that the health sector needs to acquire sufficient standing in all government policies, legislation and regulations, as well as in future obligations of the countries to implement EU legislation in this field, based on Article 152 of the Amsterdam Treaty. We believe that political input by the SEE countries would be beneficial to the processes of the EU Stabilization and Association, as well as to strengthening the public health and well-being in the SEE region.

To achieve these objectives, we, the Representatives:

1.      approve the Health Chapter, presented in Annex 1 of this Decisions, of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy, the latter being subject to subsequent governmental consultations as well as endorsement by the end of 2013;

2.      request the SEE Health Network Presidency, Executive Committee and Secretariat together with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and its all initiatives  to contribute to the finalization of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy;

3.      request the SEE Health Network Presidency, Executive Committee and Secretariat, supported by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC to develop the SEE Health Network own Health 2020 Strategy aligned to the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy, the EU 2020 and the WHO Europe Health 2020; the draft SEEHN Health 2020 Strategy and Action Plan to be submitted for approval to the 32nd Plenary Meeting in Podgoritza, Montenegro, November 2013;

4.      commit ourselves to the thrust, goal, objectives and expected results of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy ant its health for inclusive growth;

5.      request the Ministers of Health of the 10 SEE countries to endorse the above decision, to maintain continuous political commitment and support by mobilizing human and financial resources for the implementation of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy, in particular the health objectives and actions;

6.      request the Governments of the SEE countries to place high political commitment to improving health of their countries ´populations and to take urgent measures for reducing inequalities in health by working with other sectors and stakeholders in society to address underlying determinants of existing gaps and to strengthen the equity focus of all health sector policies and services, thus directly contributing to inclusive development and cohesion locally, nationally and across the region.

7.      thank the Regional Cooperation Council and WHO Regional Office for Europe for their political, technical and financial support for incorporating the Health agenda in the Inclusive growth pillar of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy;

The full text of the Health Chapter to the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy will be posted in the coming months as it is currently subject to multi-governmental consultation process.


Gaining Health in SEE through Improved Delivery of Individual, Community and Population-based Health Promoting Services

Another major decision was taken in relation to the multi-partner joint proposal for action in the 10 SEE countries. The partners are: the SEE Health Network, the International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals and Health Services, Project Hope, the Regional Cepter for Policy Analysis and Research "Studiorum" and WHO Regional Office of Europe.
This proposal foresees a concrete and practical step to scale up health promoting services, patients´ safety, quality of services and improved governance of health services in an integrated manner by all health services providers, namely Primary Health Care, Hospitals and Public Health Services, in 10 pilot regions. This action will be a practical step in implementing the commitments of the Banja Luka Pledge in preventing and contrillong noncommunicable diseases which present the main burden of diseases in the region.
This action is also part of the action package of the Health Chapter of the SEE 2020 Growth Strategy.
Health workforce, its mobility, planning and forecasting in the SEE
The 31st Plenary of the SEE Health Network was presented with the conclusions and recommendation of the European Commission TAIEX multi-country workshop on the implementation of the EC Directive 2005/36 on the harmonization and mutual recognition of health professionals qualifications in Europe.
The Presidency of Montenegro, 01 July - 31 December 2013
The 31st Plenary Meeting of the SEE Health Network approved the preliminary Roadmap of its activities during the forthcoming Presidency of Montenegro in the period 01 July - 31st December 2013.
The main heighlights will be related to:
  • Finalizing the process of the financial yearly contributions of all the SEEHN Member States;
  • Starting the process of selecting and recruitment of the international staff for the SEEHN Secretariat in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia;
  • Consultation and endorsement of the SEE 2020 Growth Startegy where health aspects will be incorporated in most of its main pillars, including the Free Trade area, Governance, Inclusive Growth, etc.
  • A number of technical regional workshops in the areas of  patients´ safety, scaled up delivery of health promoting services, reducing salt in food products for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, health workforce strangthening with primary focus on nursing, antimicrobial resistance, etc.
  • The 32nd Plenary Meeting of the SEE Health Network in November 2013 in Montenegro with focus on Noncommunicable diseases prevention and control;
  • Further representation of the SEE Health Network at various international Fora, such as the WHO Europe 63rd Session of the Regional Committee and the European Health Forum Bad Gadstein.
During the Closing session, the SEE Health Network had a humble but very emotional farewell ceremony for Ms. Snezhanna Chichevalieva, former National Health Coordinator for the Republic of Macedonia and former Chair of the SEE Health Network Executive Committee, who has dedicated her last 12 years of service to the SEE Health Network and has recently taken new duties as the Head of the WHO Europe Country Office in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. On behalf of the Network, Minister Andrei Usatii expressed the deep gratitude, appreciation and recognition for her extraordinary work and contribution to the Network development since 2002.












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