New WHO Barcelona course focuses on strengthening health systems for improved TB prevention and care


The WHO Regional Office for Europe held the first WHO Barcelona course on health systems strengthening for improved tuberculosis (TB) prevention and care from 13 to 19 October 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.

This new training programme aims to support transformation of how TB services are financed and delivered in the European Region.

In 2015, more than 40,000 people lost their lives to TB in the WHO European Region. The 53 Member States in the region bear about 5% of the global TB burden, in absolute numbers, but 25% of the disease’s multi-drug resistant form (MDR-TB), which requires treatment over a longer period, is complex and expensive to treat, more prone to side-effects and has a lower probability of treatment success.  There is growing consensus among experts that a holistic approach to strengthening health systems is needed in order to improve health outcomes of TB prevention and care.  Reforming TB services in isolation from the rest of the system is unlikely to be successful and produce lasting impact.

In response, the 6-day course provides theoretical and practical training in an integrative, whole-system framework using case-based training methodology across all of its five modules

  • analyzing and diagnosing health system performance,
  • improving the delivery of people-centred TB prevention and care,
  • health system financing,
  • improving governance and management of change, and
  • developing country specific system diagnostics and reform proposal.

The capacity-building programme was attended by decision makers, senior officials and high-level health system administrators from ministries of health and finance, managers of national TB programmes, health insurance funds and managers of service delivery organizations, experts and leaders, who are playing key roles in the implementation of health system reforms related to TB prevention and care.  The course brought together 44 participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. In addition to delegates from countries, experts from international organizations supporting TB-REP countries attended the course.

What participants said

“I find the WHO Barcelona Course very engaging. It is delivered by highly qualified professionals. The interactive and intense course brings together participants from different backgrounds and focuses on health policy, governance, financing and service delivery, all these done in the light of Tuberculosis.”
George Kuchukhidze from the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health

“This course is very informative. We are getting up-to-date information from renowned experts. I especially like how materials are based on real examples. This course is also a good opportunity to meet health professionals from different countries and organization and share ideas and experience.”
Tural Gulu, Head of the Statistics and Actuary Sector, State Agency for Mandatory Health Insurance, Azerbaijan.

“Throughout the training course, the impact of financial aspects on TB treatment outcomes was kept in view. Presentations from countries highlighted that a comprehensive assessment is necessary to identify strengths and weaknesses of regional health care systems. We will take this into account in Belarus."
Irina Putkova, Deputy Head of the Main Finance Department for Social Sphere and Science, Ministry of Finance, Belarus

“The topic of the course is very relevant for the eastern European and central Asian countries. We will apply the knowledge obtained during the course to the development and implementation of national TB programs.” 
Sanzharbek Isaev, Deputy Head of the Unit on Social Development of the Government Office of Kyrgyzstan

What trainers said

“This is a new training course, the first in the history of the WHO Barcelona courses! It is just fantastic that we are gathered here: to learn from each other, to exchange challenges and innovations and to decide how we can push back this deadly disease through health system strengthening.”
Dr Hans Kluge, Director of the Division of Health Systems and Public Health, WHO Regional Office for Europe

"The training course is a timely response to the pressing need to strengthen health systems for TB prevention and care, to identify problems and generate solutions based on good examples from the region. The European Region has the highest rates of drug-resistant TB.  Fifteen of the 27 countries in the world with the highest burden of MDR-TB are in the region. So there is a huge pressure on health systems and it is very important to go beyond TB and focus on health systems strengthening.” 
Prof Rifat Atun, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The first edition of this new training programme was delivered from 13 to 19 October 2016 by the WHO Regional Office for Europe through its Barcelona Office for Health Systems Strengthening of the Division of Health Systems and Public Health in collaboration with the Division of Communicable Diseases and Health Security. In the next two years, the annual editions of the course will continue to target the 11 high-burden countries participating in the implementation of the Tuberculosis Regional Eastern European and Central Asian Project (TB-REP) financed by the Global Fund through the Center for Health Policies and Studies (PAS Center).