Development of Health 2020 Operational Plan in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia endorsed the National Health 2020 Strategy on 27 December 2016, following 2 and a half years of inclusive policy dialogue at both central and local levels. This included the establishment of an electronic platform to encourage citizen participation and ensure transparency.
The Strategy is inspired by the values and approaches of the WHO European policy framework Health 2020, and provides a local context for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Developed with support from WHO, it is the first health strategy adopted by the Government since the country gained independence.
The development of the Strategy’s evidence-based Operational Plan is another step towards fulfilling the country’s goals and objectives for health and well-being. As part of its biennial collaborative agreement with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for 2016–2017, WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health in this process – a complex endeavour that involves carefully crafting a suite of actions that take into account international responsibilities while adapting monitoring and evaluation frameworks to the national context. This requires robust analyses and the involvement of diverse stakeholders from the outset. The Plan will be based on current national capacities for implementation; these capacities must be analysed and specific actions to strengthen them must also be defined.
In February 2017, 3 meetings took place with the group of technical experts responsible for developing the Plan. These meetings provided an opportunity to achieve common understanding, and to explore the Plan’s process as well as its content.
A workshop to finalize the Plan was held on 28–29 March 2017. Organized with WHO support, it gathered national stakeholders from health and other sectors including the environment, labour and social policy, agriculture, education, and crisis management, as well as representatives from Local Self-government, United Nations agencies and civil society organizations.
A desk review of the Plan’s policy context demonstrated the existence of a number of policy documents that currently do not relate to one another; these threaten to burden implementation efforts in terms of both resources and time. The key objective of the workshop was therefore to establish coherence among them – particularly among existing operational plans and their frameworks for different areas of the National Health 2020 Strategy. This includes management and responsibility frameworks, monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and review and reporting mechanisms.
Participants also discussed streamlined coordination and communication tools for both the Strategy and the Plan. These will provide a clear understanding of who is doing what – as well as why, how, and when – in terms of spending public resources for health across sectors and at all levels of governance.
The process of developing the Plan presents an exceptional opportunity for building technical and administrative capacities for health policy-making throughout all stages of the policy cycle; using international instruments and tools adapted to national realities; establishing a system for policy review and ongoing improvement; strengthening intersectoral and multidisciplinary collaboration; and facilitating networking and strengthening links among stakeholders through interactive sharing and knowledge management to further support implementation.
The Plan will contribute significantly to the country’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.