National COSI training workshop in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
WHO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute, held a workshop on 11 April 2016 to provide updates on the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI), and to agree on future implementation steps in the country. The workshop included presentations about COSI implementation progress at the WHO European regional and national levels.
About 25 participants – mostly medical doctors, and hygiene and environmental health specialists from the National Public Health Institute and regional public health centres who are responsible for COSI data collection, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Health – attended the workshop.
Participants discussed the key challenges and actions related to:
- the need to strengthen the process for data collection and data management, in line with the COSI methodology;
- the importance of the exchange of data at national level to assess nutrition-related health risks;
- the need to publish COSI results at regional and local levels to increase their visibility and allow for comparison; and
- the need to improve the process of continuous education by increasing the involvement of hygiene and environmental health specialists who implement COSI.
Participants made several recommendations.
- Reconfirm good practices following the nationally established methodology for data collection in COSI.
- Collect additional data, which have become mandatory with the 4th round of COSI.
- Use an online system for data transfer and data management, introduced with the 4th round of COSI.
- Publish childhood obesity data in every region that is covered by a regional public health centre.
From May to June 2016, the country will participate in the 4th COSI round and measure children from the second grade. This will be the third time the country participates in COSI; previous participation was in 2010 and 2013.
COSI is growing as an important and essential public health activity in the country. It is implemented through the National Annual Program of Public Health adopted by the Government. It provides continuous collaboration between the National Public Health Institute at national level as coordinator, and the public health centres responsible for data collection. Public health nutrition is continually improved by a national development process based on better collaboration and exchange of information.
In addition, COSI intensifies the communication among health and educational authorities in relation to children's well-being. Since its first implementation in 2010, COSI has become the national nutrition and obesity monitoring system for schoolchildren aged 6–8 years, and its methodology is established as a national standard, even in the years between COSI collection rounds. Nationally obtained data allow for international comparisons of obesity among schoolchildren and could be used as a powerful tool to create child-oriented public health policies.