Dr. Mira Dasic, Director of the SEEHN Secretariat participated at the online Meeting of the Ministers of Health within the Berlin Process, on 22 October 2020 co-chaired by North Macedonian Minister of Health, Dr. Venko Filipche and the Bulgarian Health Minister Dr. Kostadin Angelov.

For the first time this year, the Health sector has been included on the agenda. The discussions focused on the COVID-19 health response in the region and beyond. It comprised dialogues on coordinated approach to free movement of people, goods and services while keeping the epidemic situation under control.

EU representative on Health and Crisis Management, Advisor Ms Isabel De la Mata, WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Kluge, prof. Dr. Johanna Hanefeld from the Center for International Health Care, Robert Koch Institute, Dr. Andrea Aman Director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and Dr. Mira Dasic, SEEHN Secretariat Director, joined these high-level discussions. Representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Kosovo*, Montenegro and Poland also contributed to this important meeting.

The flu season started and the incidence of COVID is raising in all the countries over the South Eastern Europe Region and this meeting was of outmost importance to discuss the next package of measures to contain the outbreak and to support Western Balkan populations and beyond. It was also highlighted that at this critical time the support of international donors is of utmost importance.

During her intervention, Dr. Dasic mentioned some of the SEEHN specific activities linked to the outbreak.

Among them are:

  • Building critical skills and knowledge necessary for health workers to respond rapidly and efficiently to COVID-19;
  • Assessment of the stress and burn out among the healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Increase of the knowledge on COVID-19 among Primary Health Care nurses;
  • Establishing of the Thematic Network on Sexual and Reproductive Health to gather more data on the COVID-19 associated pregnancies and newborns.

Throughout this COVID-19, pandemic one thing came clear that no single country or organization can face these global and regional public health challenges alone. For this reason, establishing and strengthening partnerships will be another key component for all counterparts’ efforts ahead.

One of the outcomes of this meeting is the establishment of a system of information exchange on the pandemic management experiences in the region. It is extremely important to foster better coordination in Western Balkan countries and beyond to be able to cope effectively with the COVID-19 pandemic in the next period.

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