SEE Health Network Presidency, Executive Committee and Secretariat organised and hosted the 41st Plenary Meeting of the SEE Health Network, held on 20-21 June 2019 in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia in the premises of Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the subject “Health workforce in SEE region, challenges and opportunities: brain drain – brain gain”.

The 41st Plenary gathered representatives of Diplomatic Corps from the SEEHN Member States accredited to the Republic of North Macedonia, SEEHN National Health Coordinators, the Directors of the SEEHN Regional Health Development Centres, by the partners and partner international organizations’ representatives.

The opening remarks were given by Dr. Venko Filipce, Chair of the SEE Health Network Presidency and Minister of Health of the Republic of North Macedonia, Mr. Andrej Zernovski, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia and Dr. Mira Jovanovski Dasic, Head of Secretariat, SEE Health Network.

Chair of the SEE Health Network Presidency and Minister of Health of the Republic of North Macedonia pointed out that:

 “One of the major challenges we face, and I know, all of our Region is facing- IS the workforce shortages. Brain drain is increasing constantly, though, unfortunately, the brain gain balance is not maintained. This is the reason it is a very sensible topic and painful at the same time for all of us. The migration of our health personnel towards the EU countries is an understandable phenomenon, however, we are here today, to continue the conversation on this topic and to explore which policy options have been already tested, which are the short-term effects or impact and to identify viable solutions for health systems from the SEE Region” Minister Filipce in his opening speech also highlighted the importance of primary health care in the achievement of Universal Health Coverage and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The 41st SEEHN Plenary as a follow up to the commitments of the SEE Ministers of Health, stipulated in the Chisinau Pledge, endorsed during the Fourth Ministerial Forum in 2017 in Moldova, based on the priorities agreed within the SEEHN Macedonian Presidency Roadmap in 2018, dealt with several important strategic issues:

– The implementation process of the Chisinau Pledge Action Plan, as a Strategic Framework for the SEE member states under the WHO-SEEHN Sub-Regional Cooperation Strategy for the period of 2018-2023;

– The challenge of health workforce brain drain from European perspective, brain drain challenge in the Western Balkans, country case studies and practices from the SEEHN member states and cross-cutting issues; agreement on joint further actions to be taken;

– Fostered further strengthening of the working relationship between SEEHN member states, partners and stakeholders.

Fruitful discussion on health workforce migration were taken and all participants agreed that:

  • It was very productive and informative Plenary meeting that opened discussion and tried to map the situation on health workforce migration in the region;
  • Different experiences were shared to understand how complex this issue is and that this was followed by meaningful discussions;
  • Joint comprehensive regional approach by involving different sectors and stakeholders is needed; strong commitment is crucial in the joint efforts;
  • SEEHN can be important mechanism in tackling this problem;

Support from the partners dealing with this issues was also acknowledged; and that their inputs and contribution were very much appreciated

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