Montenegro shares experiences in health promotion at meeting of small countries in the European Region

Ministry of Health, Montenegro

Sustainable development – directed toward long-term improvements of life quality – represents a key strategic priority for Montenegro, which is currently developing a new Strategy on Sustainable Development for the period 2014–2020. At the first high-level meeting of small countries of the WHO European Region on implementation of the Health 2020 vision, held on 3–4 July 2014 in San Marino, Montenegro’s Minister of Health Dr Miodrag Radunovic delivered a presentation on Montenegro´s experience in this area.

The meeting was organized within a joint project of WHO and San Marino to support 8 small countries (with a population of less than 1 million) in implementation of the European policy framework Health 2020. The aim was to define a platform for sharing valuable experiences among small countries in order to strengthen their capacities for full implementation of Health 2020’s  innovative approaches toward public health improvement and reduction of health inequities.

Montenegro’s delegation was headed by the Minister of Health, and included the chief of his cabinet, Mr Drazen Ljumovic, and Head of the WHO Country Office in Montenegro, Miss Mina Brajovic.

“Health will be a key part of the Strategy on Sustainable Development and an integral element of every sectoral policy,” said Minister Radunovic. “Health is not a drain on the economy, but an investment in human capital and the dividend is paid off in the form of employment and increased productivity. Health contributes to economic growth and national development through productive  employment,  reduced  expenditure  on  illness  care  and  greater  social  cohesion. The intention is that the national framework for sustainable development will maximize well-being  at  all ages   through   universal   health   coverage   and   pro-health   policies   in   all   sectors.

Smart policies key to reducing noncommunicable diseases

Vital health indicators show improvement in the health of Montenegrin citizens. However, premature mortality due to noncommunicable diseases represents a serious challenge that can be overcome by addressing the social determinants of health and related risk factors.

Minister Radunovic stressed that promoting  good health is not just about "convincing people" to take up healthy lifestyles or awareness-raising campaigns, but also about ensuring that people can readily and easily make healthy choices – and this requires a wide range of policies to serve health concerns.

“If we want people to be healthy and remain healthy, they need to live in healthy conditions and therefore smart, green, healthy policies for transport, energy, agriculture and tourism are an imperative. Implementation of these smart policies aimed at  creating and enabling  social and  environmental conditions that promote  the  health  of  populations  and  help  individuals  make  healthy  and  sustainable  decisions  related  to their  daily living, represent a precondition for future development,” added Minister Radunovic.

According to Minister Radunovic, Montenegro began the process of health system reorientation with a focus on strengthening primary health care, and a desire to make a paradigm shift in health care service delivery, departing from the dominant acute care in order to make more room and resources available for preventive programmes and services. Reform of the health care system requires additional efforts to fully apply integrated and coordinated service delivery as an effective response to chronic conditions.

Meeting with Regional Director

On the second day of the meeting in San Marino, Minister Radunovic met with the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Ms Zsuzsana Jakab to discuss WHO cooperation priorities aimed at further strengthening of primary health care, capacity building for prevention services and realization of preventive programmes and quality assurance.

Media coverage

In an interview with the national TV station of San Marino, Minister Radunovic emphasized the significance of the small countries cooperation programme in generating new knowledge and exchanging positive experiences in overcoming common challenges.