National workshop on essential public health operations held in Slovenia

WHO/Marijan Ivanusa

Dr Mojca Gruntar Činč, Director General, Ministry of Health, closing the workshop
A national workshop on essential public health operations - an activity of the Biannual Collaborative Agreement 2010-2011 between the WHO/Europe and Slovenia - was held in Bled on 13 April 2011. About 80 public health experts from Slovenia as well as representatives of the nine South eastern European Health Network Member States attended.

The workshop was opened by Dr Dorijan Marušič, the Minister of Health, who pointed out the importance of public health for the overall health and well being of the population. Dr Maria Ruseva, WHO/Europe, set the scene for the workshop by pointing out the burden of noncommunicable diseases and by presenting the complexity of public health as well as challenges that public health operations are facing and thus should be addressed by the global community (WHO) as well by national public health structures.

Dr Mojca Gruntar Činč, Director General, Ministry of Health, reminded the participants of the relevant national strategic documents and legislation that deals with public health in Slovenia. Consensus on core public health operations was stressed, as a common platform for preparation of the national public health strategy is needed.

The workshop consisted of five panel discussions covering the first six essential public health operations as defined by WHO/Europe:
  • Surveillance and assessment of population health
  • Identifying health problems and health hazards in the community
  • Preparedness and planning for public health emergencies
  • Health protection operations
  • Disease prevention
  • Health promotion
A national public health strategy and public health report will be finalized in the following weeks under the guidance of WHO/Europe.

Participants of the workshop achieved consensus on the essential public health operations and came to the following conclusions:
  • Public health is important at the global, national, regional and local level and is facing new challenges as society has changed and continues to change very fast. For this reason public health has to adapt and thus consolidate the limited resources and optimize their utilization.
  • Know-how sharing and transfer of good practices, continuous professional education and training as well as research are crucial to secure needed level of knowledge and to secure evidence based public health interventions.
  • Communication and partnerships must be strengthened as public health is multidisciplinary. Cross-sectoral collaboration has to be further enhanced to secure a Health in All Policies approach.
  • Capacities and resources of public health in Slovenia need to be strengthened.
The public health community in Slovenia is well aware of the organizational challenges and the imminent need for consolidation of existing structures which requires not only courage of all key stake holders but also unprecedented level of synergistic, non-competitive, collaborative work marked by respect and transparency.