Slovenia prepares for assessment of its public health services

Using a WHO/Europe tool for the evaluation of essential public health operations (EPHO), in May 2017 Slovenia initiated a process for conducting a self-assessment of its public health services.

The Ministry of Health together with national experts from different institutions, and with technical support from WHO/Europe, will conduct an in-depth assessment of 10 EPHOs:

  • EPHO 1: Surveillance of population health and well-being
  • EPHO 2: Monitoring and response to health hazards and emergencies
  • EPHO 3: Health protection, including environmental, occupational, food safety and others
  • EPHO 4: Health promotion, including action to address social determinants and health inequity
  • EPHO 5: Disease prevention, including early detection of illness
  • EPHO 6: Assuring governance for health and well-being
  • EPHO 7: Assuring sufficient and competent public health workforce
  • EPHO 8: Assuring organizational structures and financing
  • EPHO 9: Information, communication and social mobilization for health
  • EPHO 10: Advancing public health research to inform policy and practice

Kicking off a promising project, aimed at improving public health capacities and services, the initial assessment took place during a 3-day workshop of national and WHO experts in Ljubljana on 20–22 September 2017. Participants focused on strengths, weaknesses, champion practices and gaps in delivering essential public health services in the country. The process followed the WHO quality criteria and will be carried out in a deliberative, inclusive, transparent and actionable way.

The process of assessing the EPHOs serves as a tool for renewing public health services in line with the precepts of Health 2020 and the European Action Plan for Strengthening Public Health Capacities and Services. At the same time, it paves the way for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to refining national public health services.

The process of assessing the EPHOs in Slovenia will particularly focus on financing and workforce development, as well as on linking primary health care with public health services. It will comprise 3 phases: the preparatory phase, the data gathering and analysis phase, and the finalization phase – with policy dialogue on development of a national strategy and action plan for development of public health services.

The Ministry of Health expects that the assessment process will:

  • contribute to a recognized need for a shared understanding among public health professionals of what services are encompassed by “essential public health operations”;
  • generate the evidence necessary to identify strengths and weaknesses and substantiate key recommendations for future action;
  • foster consensus on priority recommendations among the public health professional community; and
  • translate the outputs of the process into actionable recommendations.

The assessment results will serve as the foundation for future planning activities for strengthening public health in Slovenia, and the preparation of a strategy for public health services development, which is in line with the implementation of the Slovenian “National Health Care Plan 2016–2025: Together for a society of health”.