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Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 will be very intensive for the SEE Health Network

The Extraordinary Meeting of the SEE Health Network Executive committee just finished two days of intensive, constructive and very productive meeting with numerous decisions.

The meeting took place in Belgrade, Republic of Serbia and was hosted by the Ministry of Health with an excellent organization for which we extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation! It was very well prepared by the SEEHN Secrtariat with the solid support of all its members, WHO Regional Office for Europe, the SEE RHDCs and the RCC.

Below is the list of the main decisions:
  1. The financial report of the SEEHN for 2013 was approved;
  2. The workplan and working budget for 2014 were approved;
  3. The SEEHN Presidency and Executive Committee will submit both the 2013 Financial and technical reports and the 2014 Worklan and budget to the 10 Ministers of Health for their concent!
  4. The implementation of the SEE 2020 Strategy by the SEEHN was discussed and the timetable of the immediate actions was agreed; the RCC will support the first meeting of the SEEHN ExCom and technical Working Group on 3-4 March 2014 at the RCC premises in Sarajevo; the meeting will work on the health targets and indicators for monitoring and evaluation of the SEE 2020 Strategy; the potential flagship initiatives; the SEEHN own activities in 2014-2019 to implement the four health objectives and measures that are part of the Inclusive Growth pillar of the SEE 2020, and, finally, the support to the involvement of the Ministries of Health of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia and Serbia in the processes, at national level, of developing and endorsing the National 2020 growth Strategies and Action Plans which will be under the leadership of the respective Ministries of Economy; with this developments the Ministries of Health will be able to work horizontally with all other relevant governmental sectors and to place health as a contributor to inclusiveness, growth, creating jobs, increasing productivity, economic development and well-being; thus, the Ministries of health will have a real opportunity to implement in practice their commitments to the WHO Europe Health 2020 Policy Framework and to improve governance for health and well-being;
  5. Proposals for ammendments to the SEEHN Memorandum of Understanding (2008) were agreed and in the coming month the draft document will be formally consulted with the 10 Governments for approval;
  6. The draft Protocol on the Procedures of the SEE RHDC was discussed and will be distributed for final consultation with the objective to be approved during the forthcoming 33rd Plenary of the SEEHN under the Romanian Presidency in Bucharest in June 2014;
  7. The concept for the SEEHN Communication Strategy and the future SEEHN Website were approved and the Secretariat was instructed to start the design and creation with the objective that its is presented for final approval by the 33rd Plenary in Bucharest before launching it live;
  8. The concept, programme, modules, participants, trainers, SEE case studies and other important detailes for a new Health Diplomacy Course for over 50 participants to be held in 2014 were approved and will be organized by September 2014 with the kind support of the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development;
  9. The list of potential regional multicountry events on important for the SEEHN health and health system topics were approved and will be submitted to the EC TAIEX Instrument for support in 2014 under the already intensive cooperation process; 
  10. Initial ideas were exchanged for the preparation for the next 4th Forum of the SEE Ministers of Health to be held in 2015; a Working Group, led by the Romanian Presidency, will develop the first concept to be discussed in Bucharest in June 2014 so that the next Presidencies in 2014 and 2015 could take it forward and organize the 4rth Ministerial Forum; the hosting country is still to be decided based on proposals to come from the SEEHN Member States;
  11. ... and many more!

The full Report with all decisions will be posted in the coming week!

It is time for action and implementation!

Dr. Maria Ruseva
On behalf of the SEEHN Executive Committee
Belgrade, 31 January 2014





Saturday, January 25, 2014

22 Conference of the International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals and Health Services, Barcelona, 24-225 April 2014

The SEE Health Network Executive Committee and Secretariat are pleased to inform all our followers of the forthcoming 22 International Conference of the our partner, the International Network of Health Promoting Hospitals and Health Services which will be held in Barcelona on 24-25 April 2014.

The Conference has the following

Scope and Purpose 

"... The HPH conference 2014 is the first such event on the Iberian Peninsula. The HPH network in Catalonia that will host the conference was only founded in 2008 but has quickly developed into a HPH stronghold in South-Western Europe. It has recently focused on innovative and timely topics such as health literacy or workplace health promotion. Upon the proposal of the local hosts, the Scientific Committee decided to dedicate this conference to “Changing hospital & health service culture to better promote health”.By focusing on this general theme, the conference program acknowledges the need for organization-wide reform and development to support a more health promoting culture in health care, following the demand of WHO’s Ottawa Charter for a re-orientation of healthcare services, and concepts of Health Promoting Hospitals and Health Services (HPH).

The conference will also address the feasibility of cultural change in healthcare in times of economic crisis. There will be three sub-themes:

Health literacy - an emerging concept for more patient-oriented healthcare

Health literacy is increasingly recognized as a social determinant of health and as such an important foundation of population health which can and should be enhanced by the healthcare sector. Traditional strategies to improve patient health literacy have focused on teaching and training interventions. But there is also an emerging trend to reduce the demands for health literacy that healthcare organizations present to their clients by organizational strategies such as the health-literate healthcare organizations (Brach et al. 2012). The conference will make the case for integrating these and related strategies under the umbrella of Health Promoting Hospitals. Hospitals as the core organizations of modern healthcare systems and as consumers of huge amounts of healthcare expenditure need to be strongly involved in improving health literacy both for the sake of improved short-term clinical outcomes and for better long-term population health.

Enhancing the health environment for health professionals - Developing a more salutogenic culture for and by healthcare staff

Healthcare staff are one of the most challenged groups of employees. Workplaces in healthcare represent numerous physical health risks such exposure to chemical, biological and nuclear agents, challenges to mental health including working with severely ill and dying patients, and social health risks such as work schemes and limited ability to plan work. Therefore they typically display high turnover rates and have high proportions of early retirement. Many countries face increasing shortages in qualified medical and nursing staff, a problem that is augmented by the ageing of populations and the fact that retired staff cannot be easily replaced any more. One of the strategies that are currently used to address the problem is the migration of healthcare staff which has specific advantages but also disadvantages. Strategies of workplace health promotion and salutogenic organizations are therefore timelier than ever in the healthcare sector. The conference will discuss concepts, strategies and preconditions for better salutogenic workplaces in hospitals and health service organizations, including managerial interventions and personnel development.

Better health care responses to community needs through a culture of cooperation between organizations and settings

Hospitals and health service organizations are embedded in local communities with specific population characteristics, health and social needs. While the legal regulations and available resources for health promotion towards the community vary strongly between countries and healthcare systems, there are good examples for successful collaboration between healthcare providers and organizations in local communities under supportive conditions. The conference will explore preconditions for, mutual interests of and strategies for collaboration with numerous settings including cities, schools, workplaces, and universities."

For more information on the programme and the call for papers please visit the Conference site on:


Friday, January 24, 2014

Forthcoming Extraordinary Meeting of the SEE Health Network Executive Committee, 30-31 January 2014, Belgrade, Republic of Serbia

In follow up to the Decisions of the 32nd Plenary Meeting of the SEE Health Network (SEEHN), 27-28 November 2013, Podorica, Montenegro, the SEEHN Executive Committee is organizing this extraordinary meeting under the Presidency of Romania, 01 January – 30 June 2014.


The SEEHN is in the process of finalizing the establishment of its own institutions and mechanisms to be able to operate fully independently by the end of 2014. In 2013 the SEEHN Member States have made their first annual financial contributions and the collected funds are in the SEEHN Secretariat´s official bank account in Skopje. Only very few of the own funds of the SEEHN have been used and a decision of the SEEHN Executive Committee has to be taken and the budget for 2014 has to be developed and approved.


Additionally, the process in 2014 is supported by the Governments of Slovenia and Switzerland as well as by WHO Europe, our founding partner. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has kindly provided financial support to the process and the funds of approx. 400 000 Swiss Francs will be executed by WHO Regional Office for Europe.


Finally, the SEEHN Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2008 and stipulating the roles of the various SEEHN structures as well as the procedures for operation will have to be reviewed, revised and re-endorsed in the context of the new realities in 2014.


In view of the above, this  Extraordinary Meeting of the SEEHN Executive Committee will focus and agree on:

  1. SEE Health Network Budget and work plan in 2014
  2. Implementation of the SEE 2020 Strategy in 2014 and onwards
  3. Development of the SEEHN Health Strategy
  4. Revision of the Rules and Procedures of the SEE Health Network
  5. Development of a draft Addendum to the SEE Health Network Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2008
  6. Procedures for the selection of the SEEHN Secretariat permanent staff
  7. Concept for the Website of the SEE Health Network
  8. Concept for the Global Health Diplomacy Trainings in 2014 to be conducted with the support of the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development
  9. Strategy and proposed SEEHN regional activities in 2014 to be organized through the collaboration with the EC TAIEX Instrument
  10. Follow-up actions with the SEEHN partners, such as the International Network of Health promoting Hospitals and Health Services (HPH) and the European Health Forum Gadstein (EHFG).


3rd SEE 2020 Coordination Meeting, Brussels, 16 January 2014


On 16 January 2014 the RCC held the 3rd SEE 2020 Coordination Meeting at the RCC Liaison Office in Brussels. The meeting was attended by 13 Dimension Coordinators, two partners (EC DG Enlargement and the OECD) and 15 RCC staff from both RCC Office in Sarajevo and its Liaison Office to the European Commission.


The 13 Dimension Coordinators represented the following regional initiatives:

  1. Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA);
  2. Education Reform Initiative of South East Europe (ERISEE);
  3. Electronic South Eastern Europe Initiative (ESEEI);
  4. Inter-governmental Working Group on Social Agenda 2020 (IGWG);
  5. Network of Association of Local Authorities of South East Europe (NALAS);
  6. Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI);
  7. Regional Cooperation Council Task Force on Culture and Society (RCC TFCS);
  8. Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in SEE (SWG);
  9. Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA);
  10. SEE Health Network;
  11. South East Europe Center for Enterpreneurial Learning (SEECEL);
  12. South East Europe Transport Observatory (SEETO);
  13. Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC).

 The Meeting was conducted in line with the following agenda:       
  1. SEE 2020 Action Plans: - Discussion of the main features of action plans by RCC and dimension coordinators
  2. Monitoring of SEE 2020: - Review of the monitoring grid and presentation of the proposed monitoring indicators OECD, RCC, Eurostat
  3. Implementing SEE 2020 through flagship initiatives: - Overview of proposed flagship initiatives and exchange of views on implementation methods: RCC and dimension coordinators
  4. Governing the implementation:  Review of the governance structures and mechanisms at the strategy, pillar and dimension level, sustainability of institutions involved and budgeting regional action

 The meeting had the form of a brainstorming with extremely lively discussions and exchange of views and ideas. A full report of the discussions and conclusions will be developed by the RCC and shared with all regional initiatives as well as all countries that are falling under the SEE 2020 Strategy. Attached to the report the RCC will present guidance for the work, templates and the timeframe for actions in 2014 to launch the SEE 2020 Strategy implementation and to prepare both the 6 SEE (Western Balkan) countries as well as all regional initiatives for the potential use of the EC IPA 2 financial mechanism from 2015 onwards.


The following is a summary of the main issues and discussions at the meeting:

General issues:

The SEE 2020 Strategy´s implementation was the main topic of the discussions; it has to be launched in 2014; The countries that fall under the SEE 2020 Strategy are: ALB, BIH, CRO, KOS, MKD, MNE and SRB; at the moment negotiations are being run with MDA and TUR whose governments have expressed interest and commitment to the SEE 2020; 

The RCC will support the SEE 2020 Strategy implementation through:

  • Providing support to the individual countries to develop their National 2020 Strategies; the Ministries of Economy will be the leading governmental sector at national levels and each country will have its own National 2020 Coordinator (N2020C); to date, the countries are in the process of nomination of these N2020Cs and  when the process is finished the RCC will provide their full list with contact details;
  • Providing support to the regional initiatives through their coordinators (RIC);
  • Establish the system and indicators for monitoring and evaluation of the SEE 2020 Strategy implementation both at national and regional levels; the set of indicators are being developed by OECD;

 Role of EC and the IPA2:


The EC DG Enlargement is currently developing a 7 years Strategic paper on IPA 2; the SEE 2020 Strategy implementation will be at the centre of the EC IPA2; the EC is committed to support the SEE 2020 Strategy implementation but is firm that wants to see real progress at the ground and that all targets are met;


The EC would like to see that:

  • the Regional Initiatives Coordinators work together with the National 2020 Coordinators;
  • the national and regional priorities are firmly integrated;
  • there are no regional initiatives without a firm participation and follow-up at national level;


The new EC IPA2 Strategy will have four dimensions:

  • Horizontal support to drafting sectoral strategies;
  • Support to regional structures and networking;
  • Regional investment;
  • Territorial and trans-national cooperation.

The EC is committed to fund only initiatives in the four above-mention dimensions under the conditions that they are inclusive and effective, e.g. to have real impact on the ground and the expectation is that in 2020 at least 1 mln jobs will be created in the region.

Implementation process


As mentioned above each of the WB Governments will have to develop and approve by end of 2014 its own National 2020 Action Plan on implementing the SEE 2020 Strategy;


This process will be coupled with sectoral initiatives in 2014 but the priority ones will have to be defined and agreed as the SEE 2020 Strategy has 86 measures/actions under the 5 Pillars and it is impossible to start implementing all at the same time;


The role of the RCC in the process will be to secure through effective coordination that the regional initiatives stop working in silos and that an integrative actions are planned horizontally through the various regional initiatives  in a meaningful way; these will be the “Flagship Initiatives”  within which only multisectroal solid proposals for funding and implementation will be accepted.


In the next six months there will be intensive work for full clarity with the:

  • National Action Plans;
  • Development of 5-6 Regional Flagship Initiatives;
  • The SEE 2020 baseline report (be June 2014);

The need of solid and daily coordination and work between the N2020Cs and the National IPA Coordinators (NIPAC) was strongly highlighted and the role of the NIPACs when it comes to the future funding and the IPA financial envelopes.


In relation to the funding of the regional flagship initiatives and projects under them through IPA2, the issue of the EC requirement for 15-20% co-funding was raised by several of the initiatives; the RCC is in the process of talking to various bilateral donors in that relation;


It has been decided that the priority areas for the SEE 2020 Strategy are:

  • AGRO/FOOD: Food production and trade including food safety;

 On 1st June 2014 the SEE Regional Cooperation process will have its Meeting in Bucharest, Romania and by that time the SEE 2020 process has not only to be launched but also the SEE 2020 Baseline Report and the flagship initiatives to be developed and presented.


The need for mapping of all ongoing projects in the region as well as all donors was highlighted; currently the RCC is revising and upgrading its Website where the RICs requested that such a database is being created and uploaded for all initiatives to be able to use;

Monitoring, evaluation and time-line

The time line for the actions will be:

  • By end of January: RCC will provide the Brussels meeting report with guidance for the process, templates and the timelines;
  • By mid-February:  OECD will provide the draft indicators, both outcome and process quantivative and qualitative ones to the RICs for consideration, critical comments and inputs as well as for the collection of the first round of data on the quantitative indicators by each regional initiative for the SEE 2020 Baseline Report
  • By 01 March: all RICs to provide feedback to OECD through RCC on the indicators;
  • 10th March: Meeting of the RICs in Paris for finalizing the indicators and discussing the first round of collected data;
  • By mid April: draft concepts for the flagship initiatives to be prepared and submitted to RCC
  • End of April: next Coordination Meeting will be organized;
  • By 1st May: the first draft SEE 2020 Baseline Report to be compiled and prepared; and all flagship initiatives to be fully finalized;
  • 1st June: SEE 2020 Baseline Report to be presented to the SEE 2020 Governance Board;
  • Second half of 2014: focus on the qualitative indicators which will involve “Governments´ self-assessment” to be performed through the regional initiatives and validation by independent experts;

The process of monitoring and evaluation will require substantial human and financial resources; each regional initiative will have to have a dedicated person in charge of the monitoring; RCC will assess what are the available capacities and identify the needs in order to seeks for ways how to support the regional initiatives and strengthen their capacities for monitoring;

The “Flagship Initiatives”


The “Flagship Initiatives” are defined as “joint endeavour by 2-3 and even more regional organizations that address main areas of constraints, the who does what, how will be implemented and why is needed”;


Potential criteria for assessing the proposed concepts for “Flagship Initiatives” could be:

  • Correlation to the SEE 2020 targets;
  • Level of integration;
  • Potential impact;
  • Feasibility;
  • Cost-effectiveness;
  • Sustainability.


RCC shared some examples for potential “Flagship Initiatives” by identifying cross-cutting topics through the 5 pillars of the SEE 2020 Strategy; they are:

  • Capacity constraints;
  • Investment;
  • Inclusiveness,
  • Innovation;
  • Resource efficiency, and
  • Mobility

 The time-line for developing the “Flagship Initiatives” is as follows:

  • 31 January: guidelines
  • 07 February: agree on the criteria;
  • 31 March: regional initiatives develop  concept notes for their proposed “Flagship Initiatives”;
  • 30 April: joint review of all proposed “Flagship Initiatives” and final agreement on the ones to be presented to the SEE 2020 Governance Board and for further implementation and funding
  • 15  May: integration of the agreed “Flagship Initiatives” into the SEE 2020 Baseline Report;
  • June: SEE 2020 Baseline Report approved by the SEE 2020 Governance Board;
  • Second half  till end of  2014: RCC initiates dialogue with the NIPACs
  • 2015: IPA2 but with some delay later in the year.

 IMPLICATIONS for the SEEHN and the work in 2014:




If the SEEHN and its Member States are committed  and do not want to lose the chance, serious and immediate decisions and actions have to be taken, as follows:

Immediate selection of the permanent staff and set up of the fully operational Secretariat in Skopje;

Nomination of the SEEHN Coordinator who will participate on a continuous basis in the overall regional process to secure continuity and represent SEEHN needs and position to the RCC, the rest of the Regional Initiatives and the SEE 2020 Governance Board; To the best of my judgement that should be the future Director of the SEEHN Secretariat once selected; until that I suggest that Dr. Alex B. And I represent the SEEHN in all SEE 2020 Implementation Coordination meetings for keeping consistency and for being able to defend the health interest;

Permanent Working Group on Monitoring and Evaluation to be set up with well fixed Terms of Reference; It has to start working immediately after the ExCom Meeting in Belgrade on 30-31 January;


Immediate interaction with the other regional initiatives for developing the Flagship Initiatives where health will be one of the sectors; during the meeting in Brussels initial talks were held with several of the other Regional Initiatives for potential cooperation on developing cross-sectoral Flagship Initiatives, namely with CEFTA, ERISEE, IGWG, NALAS, RCC TFCS, SWG; ReSPA and SEECEL.

All needed actions will have to be added to the SEEHN Workplan 2014 and Calendar of events in addition to what we have today as the Roadmap of the Romanian Presidency;

Similarly, the forthcoming Serbian Presidency will have to develop its Roadmap for July-December 2014 as a continuation of the Romanian one so that a full and well consolidated SEEHN Worplan for 2014 is finalized by mid-February at the latest;

The SEEHN ExCom will have to oversee and control strictly the implementation of both the WORKPLAN and the SEEHN participation in the SEE 2020 Strategy implementation process;

The National Health Coordinators and the Ministers of Health to liaise with and work continuously and persistently with the National SEE 2020 Coordinators (still to be nominated) at the Ministries of Economy and the NIPACs in the governments so that health is not missed when the National 2020 Action Plans are developed that will reflect on the further funding through the EC IPA2 in 2015 and onwards.


Dr. Maria Ruseva

Co-opted Member

Executive Committee

SEE Health Network


22 January 2014