Newly independent states aim to reduce noncommunicable diseases


Start of subregional collaboration to strengthen health systems

Representatives of 11 of the newly independent states (NIS) recently came together to map their health systems’ ability to tackle noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). They identified common challenges and possible joint actions to develop a subregional initiative.

Representatives of the countries’ health ministries met for an international policy dialogue in Astana, Kazakhstan on 27–29 June 2012, focusing on how their health systems could be strengthened to reduce the alarming levels of NCDs in the WHO European Region. Taken together, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases account for the vast majority of the burden of disease and mortality in the Region.

The policy dialogue marked the start of collaboration on health among the NIS, as part of efforts to improve public health through extended subregional cooperation. It provided a forum for sharing experience with and best practices of public health services in the prevention and control of NCDs, and a starting point for continuous consultation and dialogue.

Dr Ion Salaru, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Moldova, expressed satisfaction over the successful exchange of experience and the initiative for collaboration: “We would appreciate the organization of subsequent policy dialogues for our countries on issues such as human resources for public health, financing of public health services, standards and indicators for monitoring and evaluating public health services, etc., in which we would both learn from international experience and exchange our own good practices.”

In particular, the participants in the dialogue discussed:

  • the implementation of the essential public health operations described to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in September 2011; and
  • WHO/Europe’s new policy initiatives, including the new European Action Plan for Strengthening Public Health Capacities and Services and the health-systems operational approach for NCD prevention and control.

These discussions provided input to a draft global action plan on NCDs for 2013–2020.

The dialogue brought together 60 participants, including representatives of several of WHO/Europe’s partner organizations: WHO collaborating centres in Denmark and Switzerland, the Swiss Red Cross, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, the Kazakhstan Association of Family Physicians, the Central Asia Regional Office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the European Commission Delegation to Kazakhstan, the United Nations Resident Coordinator/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representative in Kazakhstan, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).