Development of health and environment strategy continues in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

WHO

In continuation of efforts to support the development of a national environment and health strategy with action plan in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, WHO/Europe organized a second workshop on this topic on 15–17 December 2014, with participation of national and WHO experts. The action plan will be aligned with the National Health 2020 Strategy, currently under development.  

The workshop was the second in a series of meetings that will ensure an inclusive process for the development of the strategy with action plan, by creating synergies between relevant responsible institutions and sectors in the area of health and environment, as well as identifying key priorities of the strategy. 

Through group discussions national experts were able to define the actions, responsibilities and monitoring framework that will be part of the strategy and action plan and agreed on further steps necessary for finalization of this process. It is expected that the strategy and action plan will be finalized by March 2015. 

Dr Vladimir Kendrovski, of the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health in Bonn, Germany, led the workshop and provided support in defining key elements of the document, based on the Health 2020 approach and the approach presented in the European Environment and Health Action Plan. Mr Gerardo Sanchez, also from the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health, presented the results of an economic analysis of the impact of air pollution and heat waves in the city of Skopje. This study was undertaken in 2014 as part of the Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for cities (RAMSES) project, funded by the European Commission.

Background

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the first country in the WHO European Region to initiate a process for the development of a national strategy for health and environment with direct support from WHO/Europe. The strategy aims to stimulate environmental health policies in the health sector and address the main environmental determinants of health in the country.

The Governmental Committee on Health and Environment, established in September 2013 with the aim to enhance coordination and cross-sector efforts in areas of environmental and public health relevance, initiated the strategy development process at a 2-day workshop with national and WHO experts, which took place on 1–2 October 2014 in Skopje. A roadmap for the process was developed, with a request for strong support from WHO for development of the strategy and action plan.

In 2014 WHO supported two preparatory assessment missions undertaken in the country in March and May 2014, covering environment and health in general as well as the specific areas of air pollution and industrial contamination.

Some 35 participants from different governmental sectors, including health, environment, crisis management, meteorological, and food safety services and inspectorates; civil society; and local government paved the way for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to a national public health policy, ensuring that the strategy will be aligned with the principles of the European policy framework Health 2020.