Greece and Italy exchange experiences on organization of health services

WHO/Athanasios Myloneros

A Greek delegation visited the Puglia region of Italy on 26–29 November 2017 to learn about recent developments in organizing health-care services. The visit was part of Greece’s efforts to move towards universal health coverage.

The visit, part of an exchange programme between the 2 countries, looked at the region’s emergency and out-of-hours medical services, the coordination between primary health care and acute tertiary care, the model for care related to chronic conditions, and different options for organizing patient pathways to ensure timely and quality services.

Strong primary health care requires a network of health providers and settings that are equipped, supported, incentivized and trained to manage chronic conditions, the concurrent use of multiple medications and the presence of 2 or more medical conditions. The recent initiation of the new primary health-care network is an opportunity to address these issues and to guarantee a comprehensive approach for people’s access to health services.

The visit to Puglia included extensive discussions with the region’s Health Care Services Authority and field visits to hospitals, emergency departments, telemedicine services and primary health-care units. The main topics of discussions included the establishment of a national classification and triage system, the enhancement of ambulatory services to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, the organization of integrated networks of care and of the chronic care model, and the provision of telehealth services both in acute and primary care.

The study visit was carried out under the second phase of the Strengthening Capacity for Universal Coverage (SCUC2) action, and backed by the policy brief “Re-profiling emergency medical services in Greece”, produced under the same activity.


The SCUC action 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.