Conference on Universal Health Coverage Day in Albania
12 December 2014 was observed worldwide as the first-ever Universal Health Coverage Day following the unanimous endorsement of the resolution on Universal Health Coverage, by the United Nations on 12 December 2012. A national conference was jointly organized in Albania by the Ministry of Health and the WHO Country Office to promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as the future of the development of health sector.
An important focus of the Conference was the inter-reliability of the expansion of UHC and the role of Human Resources for Health and therefore in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office, expertise on Human Resources for Health was mobilized. Professor Gilles Dussault, the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Workers Policies and Planning / Institute of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine, Lisbon, Portugal , served as a technical resource to the policy discussions that preceded the conference on 11 December and to the series of presentations during the conference.
In his opening speech, the Minister of Health Ilir Beqaj said: “I am glad that Albania has joined the Universal Health Coverage Partnership, a growing global coalition that calls for the UHC to become a priority issue in the sustainable development agenda and an absolute objective for all of the United Nations.”
The WHO Regional Director for Europe Zsuzsana Jakab in her greeting message to the conference stated: “Today, as you launch the first Universal Coverage Day in Albania, you launch an important chapter in your country’ public health. Albania’s commitment on this is a pledge for greater equity in health, and this earns my full respect and support.”
The conference coincided with the launching of the Free Check Up Programme of the Ministry of Health consisting of free medical checkups for citizens aged 40-65. Around 200 participants, representatives of central, regional and rural health services, the health insurance fund, United Nations, World Bank, bilateral donor agencies and members of the Parliamentary Health Commission attended the discussions of two expert panels that focused respectively on:
- introduction to Universal Health Coverage from a global and Albanian perspective;
- importance of preparing an adequate workforce for the UHC agenda.
The panels were composed of senior health policy-makers and representatives of academic Institutions. The Minister of Health and his two deputies were actively involved and shaped the discussions of both panels.
Within the scope of a larger United Nations support to Albania, WHO will continue its technical assistance, aware that UHC in the country has a long way to go to ensure equitable access to a wide range of high quality services without the risk of financial ruin to households. Support will also continue in strengthening the regulatory framework for Human Resources for Health.