Dr. Mira Dasic, director of the Secretariat of the South Eastern Europe Health Network addressed the 7th International Public Health Conference which took place in Albania on the 23 March 2021. The event was co-organized by the Albanian Ministry of Health, WHO, UNFPA, and UNICEF.
High-level representatives of the Government and interested stakeholders as well as international partners attended the event that focused on strengthening the culture of prevention and on how to assure universal access to essential services for all the population.
“Integration of Public Health services into Primary Health Care (PHC)” was the first-ever national public health conference dedicated to primary health care in Albania.
It provided a dialogue platform for professionals and academia to share experiences and to discuss policy, practice, and research, priority challenges to, and lessons learned in developing primary health. It also aimed at sharing best practices on innovative models of services to be developed, and efficient mechanisms for better and more evidence-based policies and practices within the field.
Dr. Mira Dasic attended the parallel session 1 Successful PHC strategies: effective integration of PH functions into PHC with a presentation on SEEHN (Western Balkans and beyond) potential to advocate for better integration of primary health care and public health in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
The intervention was structured around 3 points: brief introduction on SEEHN, PHC and PH current examples and future possibilities. The SEEHN Director paid tribute to the Declaration of Alma-Ata which is considered to be a strategic milestone in underlying the importance of primary health.
In her remarks, Dr. Dasic encapsulated key messages on the importance of investments in people, partnerships, platforms, and political will. Addressing increasingly complex health needs calls for a multisectoral approach that integrates health-promoting and preventive policies, solutions that are responsive to communities and health services that are people-centered. Strengthening systems at the community and peripheral health facility level contribute to building resilience, which is critical for withstanding shocks to the health system, like the one we are living now.
She underlined to the audience that it is crucial to recommit to strengthening primary health in order to achieve universal health coverage: “leave no one behind” and to secure the health of the whole population.
The SEEHN director stressed the importance of rethinking and reorganizing the system to put the person at the centre: „Through the integration of PHC and PH the existing gap can be closed and move closer to the goal and achieve equitable health for everyone. The PHC as the first point of contact has a crucial role in promoting healthier lifestyles.” PHC professionals should “make every contact count”, which is about making healthy living a priority, Dr. Dasic explained.
The conference was also an opportunity to brief the participants on the regional initiatives SEEHN coordinated starting with the efforts to strengthen PHC in the Network`s Member States back in 2018 and culminating with the recent project; “Strengthening capacities of nurses – front line healthcare workers during the COVID-19 response – Strong nurses for strong health systems and a healthier world” funded by CEI.
The presentation also offered a short glance at the prospects of another SEEHN initiative to be soon implemented with the support of the TAIEX mechanism and hosted by the RHDC on Human Resources for Health hosted by the Republic of Moldova to tackle the PHC skill-mix of nurses and their ability to provide advice on NCDs management.
The SEEHN Secretariat avail itself of this opportunity to welcome the endeavors of Albania to recommit to strengthening primary health care and extend its appreciation for the warm welcoming and the excellent organization of the event.