Health ministers in South-eastern Europe commit to achieving universal health coverage


Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Dr Zlatibor Lončar, Minister of Health of the Republic of Serbia and current President of SEEHN, jointly organized the meeting of ministers in Serbia on 22-23 June 2015.

Ministers from 10 countries in the South-eastern Europe Health Network (SEEHN) met in Belgrade on 22-23 June 2015 and agreed on joint regional and national actions towards securing universal health coverage. In addition to promoting an equitable Europe free of impoverishing health expenditures, the Belgrade Statement, endorsed by the ministers, also commits the countries to promote and scale up political commitment to implementing Health 2020 and agree on more specific regional actions for strengthening human resources for health and coordinating cross-border support in public health emergencies. 

"A year ago, I promised the Regional Committee that I would continue to work for improved health outcomes and to link health to equity and also to sustainable development. This is happening more and more in our Region, and our decision-makers are increasingly obliged to take a wider perspective in their work. Coherent, inter-connected government policies – with a strong intersectoral component – are the way forward. This also applies to the SEEHN and individually to your countries" said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab in her opening speech.

Ministers welcomed the opportunity to exchange views, experiences and lessons learnt with regard to the main common priorities for collaboration among the countries. They raised the issues of health systems strengthening, disease prevention, sustainable health financing, health information systems, information exchange, health literacy, intersectoral partnerships, implementing the International Health regulations (2005), immunization rates and preparation and response in emergencies such as the 2014 floods in the Balkans.
Discussions also covered enhancing the Network's governance structures at both political and technical level.  Approval was given to three of the posts of the secretariat and admission of new members to the Executive Committee of the SEEHN, including a change of the chairperson for the next 2 years. 

Jointly organized by Dr Zlatibor Lončar, Minister of Health of the Republic of Serbia and current President of SEEHN, and Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe , the meeting brought together ministers, deputy ministers and state secretaries from the 10 Member States of the South-eastern Europe Health Network.