Strengthening intersectoral cooperation for health and well-being in the community in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

WHO

The WHO Country Office in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and local governments of municipalities from all over the country, organized three subregional workshops between September and November 2016 on strengthening intersectoral cooperation for health and well-being in the community, named “Together for Health for All”.

The workshops brought together more than 200 representatives of various government sectors from more than 40 municipalities, as well as civil society organizations, to discuss the role of intersectoral cooperation for health and well-being at local level; to present and further promote the all-inclusive consultative process to implement the National Health 2020 Strategy; to raise awareness locally of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals; and to start a policy dialogue on harmonizing local plans with the National Health 2020 Strategy as a means, among other things, of improving health and well-being, boosting the resilience of local communities, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The regional workshops were held on 19–21 September in the municipality of Veles for the regions of Veles and Strumica, 26–28 September in Ohrid for the regions of Bitola, Prilep, Tetovo and Gostivar, and 31 October–2 November in Berovo for the regions of Kocani, Shtip and Kumanovo.

At the end of the workshops the participants adopted a joint statement on strengthening intersectoral cooperation on health and well-being in the community and made the following commitments, each in their domain of work and within the limits of their authority:

  • to work towards improved health for all and reduced health and social inequalities for the sake of well-being for all;
  • to invest in health across the entire life-cycle, from birth to old age;
  • to preserve and invest in healthy living and work environments, practise healthy lifestyles and invest in the prevention of both noncommunicable and communicable diseases;
  • to encourage and foster intersectoral cooperation for health and well-being, which contributes to societal development and economic prosperity;
  • to enable citizen and community participation in and support for better health and well-being;
  • to contribute towards the enjoyment of human rights and gender equality.

All the participants agreed that health is not just a matter for the health sector. All sectors have a role to play – environment, development, economy, education, social security, transport and science – as well as nongovernmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders that can contribute to better health. Acting together in the community is essential for better health, well-being and sustainable development for every individual as well as for the nation as a whole.

The participants committed themselves to working together on measures and activities that will activate the functions of the municipal Councils for Public Health, as prescribed by the Law on Public Health from 2010. These bodies will enable intersectoral cooperation for the development and implementation of local health and well-being plans, with a view to implementing the National Health 2020 Strategy. In addition, they should act as a major local structure supporting the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 3 and of the remaining goals that are relevant to health.

“Together we are more powerful: the integration of all sectors for health is not just a mechanical merger; instead, it is a functional association in a system in which everybody knows their place and task. Only in this manner are we going to be able to respond to the challenges posed by factors such as diseases, crises, unemployment, poverty and inequality – factors that hold back health, well-being, productivity and sustainable development in the community. Let’s provide for a sound socioeconomic situation and healthy living environment for the current and the future generations” – from the closing paragraph of the joint statement.