Improving public health services and capacities in Slovakia

WHO/Karin Pavelekova

Participants at the second workshop of national working group established to assess public health services in Slovakia, 6 December 2012

A national working group established by Slovakia’s Ministry of Health will perform a self-assessment of public health services (PHS) and capacities in the country as a first step towards defining strengths and weaknesses and developing a national strategy for further improvement.

This assessment is in line with the new European health policy Health 2020 and the European Action Plan for Strengthening Public health Capacities and Services, endorsed by the WHO Europe Regional Committee at its sixty-second session in Malta, September 2012.

Aim of the initiative

As in other countries of the Region, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases together account for the vast majority of the disease burden and mortality in Slovakia. In agreement with new policy initiatives of WHO/Europe, including the new operational approach for health system strengthening, a primary aim of the Ministry of Health is to reduce the alarmingly high rates of noncommunicable diseases in the country. The PHS assessment will therefore focus on identifying:

  • how to orient the health system to increase disease preventive and health-promoting services and 
  • how to implement a whole-of-government approach.


On 6 December 2012 the national working group (NWG) conducted its second workshop. It was supported by WHO/Europe as part of the biennial collaborative agreement 2012-2013 between WHO/Europe and Slovakia.

Dr Maria Ruseva, international public health expert and WHO/Europe adviser, assisted the NWG members in understanding and applying the 10 Essential Public Health Operations (EPHO) – the WHO/Europe web-based tool for evaluation of PHS that was endorsed by the WHO Regional Committee in 2011. They discussed in particular the methodology and learned how to perform the self-assessment during a hands-on practical training. A chair for each EPHO was appointed, who will create his/her own resource sub-group to represent all governmental sectors, levels of authority and other involved actors.

The NWG is chaired by the State Secretary of Health of the Slovak Republic, who was debriefed by Dr Ruseva together with Dr Darina Sedláková, Head of the WHO Country Office in Slovakia, on the follow-up process of performing the evaluation. WHO/Europe will assist in organizing a consensus-building national conference with all relevant stakeholders to present the findings and recommendations of the NWG in mid-2013.