Health system challenges and opportunities to improve noncommunicable disease outcomes in Serbia

As part of a WHO/Europe initiative on health system strengthening to improve outcomes of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), a five-member WHO expert team visited Belgrade for a joint mission during 14–18 November 2016.

Working with national experts, the WHO team commenced a country assessment which aimed to identify and assess those areas of health systems that could potentially contribute to accelerating gains in key NCD outcomes while producing pragmatic and actionable policy recommendations.

The mission specifically reviewed the level of implementation of priority population interventions that are critical to achieve good NCD outcomes. For this, the team linked the patterns of health outcomes to the level of implementation of priority actions grouped around three main areas:

  • prevention of smoking
  • prevention of harmful use of alcohol
  • improvement of diet and physical activity.

In addition, the team performed an assessment of relevant barriers to successful implementation of these priority actions, including political commitment, interagency cooperation, the process of priority setting and health information collection and analysis. The joint mission programme also included two roundtables: the first with the national working group and focal points and the second with civil society and patients’ associations.

Preliminary findings and recommendations were presented in the areas of frameworks and mandates, the level of implementation of population-based interventions and governance.

Future missions planned as part of the same initiative will focus on the coverage of individual services related to assessment and management of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, as well as early detection and treatment of cancer.

Support for this activity was provided  through the biennial collaborative agreement 2016–2017 between the Ministry of Health and WHO Regional Office for Europe. The initiative is financially supported by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and through a voluntary contribution of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.