Workshop held in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on implementation of National Health 2020 Strategy at community level

WHO/Aleksandar Manchevski

The workshop was opened by Dr Jovanka Kostovska, State Advisor at the Ministry of Health, Ms Margarita Spasenovska, acting Head of the WHO Country Office in Skopje and Ms Snezhana Chichevalieva, Programme Manager for Health Policies, WHO/Europe. These speakers emphasized the common determination to invest continuously in the promotion of health and well-being as a prerequisite for people-centred social development, as well as the key role of both the local community and intersectoral action at all levels. The workshop gathered together over 50 representatives of local communities and institutions, working in the areas of health, social protection, employment, environment, education, housing, urban planning, crisis management, economy and civil society.

On behalf of the Ministry of Health, Dr Jovanka Kostovska addressed the attendees and emphasized the importance of intersectoral collaboration and coordination at national and local levels. She underlined that the adoption of the National Health 2020 Strategy – as well as of the action plans for public health, health and environment, noncommunicable diseases and emergency preparedness – should serve as instruments for implementation of the strategy at the community level. Ms Snezhana Chichevalieva, presented the European experiences and available instruments and tools at regional level for supporting Member States in their efforts to implement health policies for all, which is only possible by acting at local level and together with the community.

The 2-day workshop gave a closer look at the operationalization of global and European health policy – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and Health 2020, the European policy for health and well-being – and possibilities for their implementation at local level. The National Health 2020 Strategy and the Operational Plan for its implementation were presented and used as examples to stimulate intersectoral coordination and collaboration, as a significant precondition of their successful implementation.

Participants shared experiences and stories from local communities: Ms Liljana Onchevska Nadzinska, from the City of Skopje spoke about the benefits and opportunities for the city of membership of the WHO European Healthy Cities network; Ms Makedonka Vilarova talked about education investments for health in Veles; and Ms Keti Rosik shared experiences on the social and welfare possibilities of health improvement in Ohrid.

As background information, an analysis was prepared on the legal possibilities and policy opportunities for implementation of the National Health 2020 Strategy at local level, including existing structures and mechanisms at municipality level for acting upon the health and well-being of communities and individuals. For the same purpose, an interactive map of local Public Health Councils was developed, to inspire collaborative efforts and to serve as a boost to expanding the Health 2020 e-platform as a tool and gathering place for local communities in addressing issues related to their health and well-being. Working in groups, participants discussed the implementation of the National Health 2020 Strategy, bearing in mind the Operational Plan and its transferability to the community level.

Key discussion points were summarized by participants themselves, expressing gratitude to the Ministry of Health and the WHO Country Office, and their enthusiasm and readiness for strengthening intersectoral collaboration for the well-being of their citizens.