The national representatives of the SEEHN Member States, and the directors of the SEEHN Regional Health Development Centers met virtually for an Ad-Hoc Plenary meeting on 17 March. The event was held virtually considering both health and security circumstances.
The opening remarks were given by Dr. Danijela Urosevic, Chair of SEEHN Executive Committee, Dr. Mira Jovanovski Dašić, Head of Secretariat of the SEEHN, and Mr. Robb Butler, Executive Director of the WHO Regional Director`s Office (pre-recorded message).
The agenda provided the participants with the opportunity to take a glance back at the South Eastern Health Network`s actions under the Serbian Presidency in 2021, followed by discussions on the status of the organization of the 5th Ministerial Forum. Additionally, reflections on the opportunities to strengthen SEEHN Regional Health Development Centers capacity and lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic to increase resilience and strive for further progress were discussed.
In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Danijela Urosevic emphasized the specific context we are facing and the need to use the Belgrade Ministerial Forum to create a momentum to better redefine and rebuild ourselves. “The Belgrade Pledge shall define the next major axes of interventions for the next four years. At the same time, I would reiterate that it is time to reflect on what would be the Network in ten years, what we want to achieve, through which means and how. Our priorities will determine our focus of work and also the budgets to drive for results. Thus, the reflective and coordination exercise shall be our priority and when agreement is reached the implementation will follow”, the official stated.
Reffering to the same topic, the Head of the SEEHN Secretariat, Dr. Mira Dašić, also stressed (…)”it is the very time to have all the ministers of health around the table. It is of outmost importance to anticipate and plan a relief and supporting plan around core priorities for SEEHN. We, as the SEEHN Secretariat, are looking forward to the opportunity to put all the efforts, to join our expertise and use this political event to bring the highest commitment towards health systems in the SEE Region”.
A special core taskforce has been set up to prepare the Belgrade Declaration, which will be responsible for making decisions leading to a successful event in June. The WHO EURO nominated its representative to the working group – the WHO representative in Serbia.
The national representatives were also invited to reflect on the challenges of the situation in Ukraine, with a focus on how to mobilize and shape support and with brief updates from the neighbouring countries on the inflow of refugees. It is of outmost importance to have a coordinated, channelled effort with the involved governments in close partnership.
The migrant flow will determine an increase in demand over the health services but not limited to:
- Increased need in emergency, maternal, and childcare.
- Mental health issues from both sides: the overwhelmed health personnel that faces another emergency and from the incoming migrants traumatised by the conflict.
- NCDs management.
Since SEEHN has been created on the principle of solidarity with the aim of contributing to social cohesion, peace and security – after 20 years it is still relevant. In this situation, SEEHN will mobilize partners to provide coordinated emergency relief support.