Second international workshop on implementation of the European Action Plan for Strengthening Public Health Services and Capacity in CIS


A workshop to strengthen public health leadership in implementing the European Action Plan on Strengthening Public Health Capacities and Services in the context of Health 2020, WHO/Europe's policy framework, took place on 28 and 29 July 2015 in Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan. The Government of Kyrgyzstan hosted the workshop for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, which brought together representatives from health ministries and public health institutions from Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation and Tajikistan. This event follows the first workshop on the same topic that took place in October 2014 in Moscow, Russian Federation, organized by the Federal Research Institute for Health Organization and Informatics of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and WHO/Europe.

Dr Oleg Gorin, Deputy Minister of Health, Chief State Physician and Chief Sanitary Physician of Kyrgyzstan opened the meeting, and welcomed participants and the initiative of WHO/Europe overall. Dr Gorin emphasized the importance of public health services saying, "Strengthening public health services in our countries will provide significant input to improve the health of the population."

Countries show significant movement in implementation

During the workshop, countries presented their implementation and utilization of the European Action Plan and demonstrated how public health services are being strengthened in practice. The delegates mentioned the importance of the inter-organizational collaboration and self-assessment tool for the evaluation of essential public health operations. Discussion included developing case studies of best practices, experience and lessons learned for the interim report. An interim report of the European Action Plan implementation is due at the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in 2016. "Countries have shown significant movement towards implementation of the European Action Plan, in particular the development of public health within national health systems and across other sectors," said Regina Winter, WHO/Europe consultant on public health services.

Synergies with environment and health

Additionally, there is an interest in examining synergies with specific public health areas, such as environment and health, that can further contribute to strengthening primary prevention through addressing powerful determinants and mitigating risk factors that are responsible for substantial disease burdens. As a result of the unique overlap between these sectors, a special session on environment and health took place. The session underlined the importance and public health relevance of further pursuing the implementation of the European agenda on environment and health, as set out by the 2010 Parma Declaration on Environment and Health.

Participants gave examples of challenging situations they face at national level, where economic interests conflict with health priorities, for example, when hazardous jobs are involved. The need was expressed, in this respect, for the health sector to take an active part in the policy debate and use available evidence to inform the policy decisions. "For 25 years, the health sector and the environment sector of countries in the WHO European Region have been closely collaborating. We are very proud of such strong intersectoral collaboration and believe that further progress will provide great benefits to public health," said Marco Martuzzi, Programme Manager, Environmental health risk assessment and management, WHO European Centre for Environment and Health.

Network to promote public health

Another purpose of the workshop was to discuss creating a network of agencies and centres of public health institutions on a technical and expert level, and developing an experience and information exchange. Representatives showed their willingness to be part of this network, and its importance for priority-setting and technical exchange among Russian-speaking countries. "The development of the network will not only bring better health and greater well-being to the countries, as well as undeniable social and economic benefit but will promote public health through the prevention and control of communicable and noncommunicable diseases, and through the strengthening of health systems and public health services bringing them high on the political agenda," said Dora Mircheva, WHO/Europe consultant on public health services.