Public Health consensus meeting in Slovenia

STA

Dr Tomaž Gantar, Minister of Health, addressing the participants of the conference

Following a decision taken by the Slovenian government in July 2013, the National Public Health Institute and nine regional institutes of public health are to be merged into two institutes as of 1 January 2014. The institutes will be called:

  • National Institute for Public Health
  • National Laboratory for Health, Environment and Food.

Ahead of the merger a 'consensus meeting' was held in Ljubljana on 13 September 2013 to enable participants to position the national process of strengthening public health within WHO's Health 2020 strategy. The meeting was an opportunity to fine-tune the Slovene Public Health Strategy 2013–2023 and to reach a consensus. It was also a launch for designing key elements of the biannual action plan (2014–2015) for the implementation of the Slovene Public Health Strategy.

Looking to the future of public health

Slovenia's efforts to strengthen public health are in line with international development emphasizing the importance of strong, effective and efficient public health. The Slovene Public health strategy that was drafted follows the 10 essential public health operations as defined by WHO.

In his opening speech Tomaž Gantar, Minister of Health, commented: "In order to affect determinants of health, we need strong arguments which will be heard by other stakeholders and ministers who are policy-makers outside the health sector. The principle of health in all policies can only take off with the support of strong, consolidated and competent public health activities. Public health activities are among the highest priorities of the Ministry of Health, since the traditional goal of public health, to improve the health of all people and draw attention to inequalities in health, is perhaps more important today than ever."

A strong tradition of public health

Slovenia has a long tradition of strong public health institutions. The creation of Slovenia's first public health institute in 1923 was an important landmark in establishing the public health infrastructure. The Hygiene Institute in Ljubljana still operates today under the name Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia – Inštitut za varovanje zdravja Republike Slovenije. Shortly after its foundation, local hygiene stations were set up, forming the basis for the Regional Institutes of Public Health – Zavod za zdravstveno varstvo.

Fundamental reforms were carried out in 1992 with the aim of building up a modern health system. With the turn of the millennium, efforts for optimizing public health in Slovenia intensified and culminated in the National Assembly endorsing the changes in legislation that enabled the Government to restructure public health institutes.