WHO Representative in Serbia receives award for public advocacy and contribution to public health
On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the Institute of Public Health of Serbia has recognized Dr Marijan Ivanusa, WHO Representative and Head of Country Office in Serbia, for his public advocacy and contribution to public health. He received the award together with Tamara Vučić, First Lady; Dr Zlatibor Lončar, Minister of Health; and Dr Nebojša Lalić, Dean of the Medical Faculty, University of Belgrade.
Dr Ivanusa used the occasion to stress the importance of public health: “Improving health and preventing diseases is the key goal of public health and brings savings to the health system. These savings can be easily overlooked, while in reality they should be understood as a crucial resource for enabling the introduction of new technologies in clinical medicine, which can sometimes be very costly but bring progress and new hope to people”.
The celebration of the 100th anniversary was dedicated to immunization – past achievements, current challenges and future plans. Serbia has long history of vaccination; the country was among the first to start giving certain vaccines in the 19th century. Diphtheria was eliminated in Serbia in 1980, and the country has maintained its polio-free status since 2002. The last case of newborn tetanus was reported in 2009.
The immunization programme in Serbia has seen considerable success, reaching more than 95% of children with measles vaccines, following the outbreak of 2018. This fact was highlighted by Dr Dorit Nitzan, Coordinator for Health Emergencies at WHO/Europe, who emphasized the achievements of Serbian public health professionals, not only in the area of immunization, but also health emergencies.