Public health self-assessment process initiated in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

WHO/M. Spasenovska

Presentation of group work during public health self-assessment workshop, August 2014

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the first country in the WHO European Region to conduct a critical self-assessment of its public health services using a newly revised assessment tool for Essential Public Health Operations (EPHO).

Kicking off a promising project aimed at improving public health capacities and services in the WHO European Region, the assessment took place during a 3-day workshop of national and WHO experts in Ohrid in August 2014 focused on strengths, weaknesses and gaps in delivering essential population health services in the country. The assessment report will contribute to the development of a national public health policy, based on the WHO framework policy Health 2020.

In opening the workshop, City Council President of Ohrid, Dr Gordana Konjanovska, and Parliamentary Committee Member of Health, Dr Sasho Vasilevski, pledged political engagement and support to public health reforms in the country. Ms Snezhana Chichevalieva, head of the WHO Country Office, in turn expressed WHO support to the Ministry of Health in this laudable pursuit.

Whole-of-government approach

Dr Vasilevski highlighted the importance of public health reforms to the whole of government: "The solutions to public health are not only in the health sector, but in a common and integrated whole-of-society approach towards improving the health determinants and indicators. The strategic benefit of the Health in all Policies approach is becoming ever more important. This approach, which is integrated in the Health 2020 framework, suggests setting the health of the population higher on the political agenda, as well as strengthening the dialogue in the creation of health policies."

Workshop participants hailed from different governmental sectors including health, environment, crisis management, social affairs, civil society and local government, paving the way for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to the process of developing national public health policy.

Dr Elke Jakubowski, head of the Public Health Services Programme at WHO/Europe, and senior WHO experts Dr Jose Martín Moreno and Dr Maria Ruseva, illustrated key principles and elements of the assessment, which requires professionals, practitioners and policymakers from different sectors and fields of expertise to come together in interactive group work. 

The self-assessment will be rolled out to include further experts and professionals from health and other sectors in the country, in a continuing effort to develop and refine a new Macedonian public health strategy.

Updated assessment tool

The 2014 version of the WHO/Europe public health self-assessment tool was finalized under the leadership of Professor Martin-Moreno in July 2014, following substantive feedback from public health experts across the Region. The tool is aligned with Health 2020 and the European Action Plan for Strengthening Public Health Capacities and Services (EAP) and is being applied in a pilot phase in both the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Poland.The tool can contribute to: 

  • the policy dialogue on public health; 
  • creation of national public health plans; 
  • revisiting and revising national health programmes; 
  • identifying and implementing legal, regulatory and institutional changes; and
  • revisions to medical and public health schools' curriculum.