Public health developments in south-eastern Europe
Countries in the South-eastern Europe Health Network (SEEHN) are establishing regional health development centres in key areas of public health. After conflict bitterly divided communities and countries in the region, SEEHN steadfastly cooperated on health and development, with WHO support. From 2010 the countries began to take ownership of this cooperation. Most recently, SEEHN national health coordinators and international partners inaugurated the regional health development centre on antibiotic resistance at the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases in Sofia, Bulgaria, which is also a WHO collaborating centre for communicable diseases surveillance.
Similarly, on 7 June 2011, Mr Sredoje Novic, Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, officially inaugurated the regional health development centre on mental health in Sarajevo.
In all, eight regional health development centres have been or will soon be established, including those on:
- strengthening public health services in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which began work in July 2010;
- communicable diseases in Albania, inaugurated in November 2010;
- organ donation and transplant medicine in Croatia, inaugurated in February 2011; and
- blood safety in Romania, which is giving training to health professionals.
Centres on human resources in health development, in the Republic of Moldova, and on the accreditation and continuous quality improvement of health care, in Serbia, will open soon.
Centre on mental health
SEEHN countries have made great strides towards developing modern and socially responsible mental health services that respect the needs and rights of service users and provide care in the community. The regional health development centre on mental health will maintain the cooperation between countries and promote further developments.
Speaking at the inauguration of the centre, Mr Sredoje Novic, Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, stated, “Once again Bosnia and Herzegovina is given a great honour and trust in the field of mental health in south-eastern Europe.”
A workshop followed the opening, to assess progress made since the end of the SEEHN mental health project in December 2008 and to discuss priorities in mental health, needs for collaboration and support, and future action.
Centre on antibiotic resistance
The main goal of the centre in Bulgaria is to coordinate collaboration between public health institutions in the field of microbiology:
- to improve the development of national and regional surveillance programmes on antibiotic resistance;
- to ensure their sustainability; and
- to develop antibiotic policies and programmes in south-eastern European countries.
The centre will also:
- promote and provide education and training on the surveillance, prevention and control of antibiotic resistance in the region, by improving countries’ capacity for detection, reporting and control;
- support regional antibiotic policy through public awareness campaigns carried out in cooperation with international organizations, and continued promotion of the prudent use of antibiotics;
- help countries join the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net) by providing support with the application processes and expert advice; and
- advise WHO and other international organizations on antibiotic resistance in the region.
Twenty-fifth meeting of SEEHN
Members met on 16–18 June 2011 in Sofia, Bulgaria, to prepare for the third health ministers’ forum, planned for 13–14 October 2011, in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SEEHN is a political and institutional forum set up by the governments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to promote peace, reconciliation and health in the region. WHO/Europe lends technical support to SEEHN’s various health projects, after having supplied its secretariat, along with the Council of Europe, from 2001 to 2009.
In 2009, member countries signed a memorandum of understanding, agreeing to take ownership of regional cooperation for public health, and began the process in January 2010.