Ioannina becomes the first city in Greece to pilot integrated health and social services


Integrated health and social services will soon become reality in Greece, with the city of Ioannina set to pilot a new model of service integration to better meet the needs of its people.

Experts from WHO/Europe and the Greek Ministry of Health discussed the piloting of integrated services at a local policy dialogue in Ioannina on 25–26 October 2017. The policy dialogue included key stakeholders from health and social services, the city’s university, and local authorities. The event helped participants, who were eager to see the city set an example, to reach consensus.

Integrated health services delivery is an approach that emphasizes, among other things, the provision of services through multidisciplinary teams that include general practitioners, nurses, social workers and other professionals across various settings and levels of care.

People-centred and integrated health services are essential for the achievement of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ioannina is a city with a population of 120 000 and 2 hospitals. In a move towards improving people-centred care, the city is now looking into reducing unnecessary hospitalizations, moving more services to primary care settings and integrating services with the city’s well-established social care network. Ioannina’s long experience in social services will enhance collaboration and facilitate the establishment of the integrated health and social services network.

The piloting of integrated services in Ioannina is a result of a WHO assessment carried out in June 2017 to explore alternatives to inpatient care. WHO experts consulted with stakeholders from the Regional Health Authority, management from the University Hospital and the General Hospital, medical faculty members, the Director of the Primary Health Care Centre, the Administrative Region Deputy Governor, the Deputy Mayor and the Regional Public Health Director.

The policy dialogue was organized under the second phase of the “Strengthening capacity for universal coverage” (SCUC2) initiative.


The SCUC initiative is carried out with funding from the European Union through a grant agreement between the European Commission and WHO/Europe. Its general objective is to contribute to improving health and health equity in Greece, especially among the most vulnerable in the crisis-stricken population, by helping Greek authorities move towards universal health coverage and strengthen the effectiveness, efficiency and resilience of their health system.