High-level expert meeting in Serbia to implement European strategic directions for strengthening nursing and midwifery towards Health 2020 goals

WHO

The Institute of Public Health of Serbia "Dr Milan Jovanović Batut", the Ministry of Health and the WHO Country Office in Serbia jointly convened an expert meeting on 29 December 2015 in Belgrade to introduce the "European strategic directions for strengthening nursing and midwifery towards Health 2020 goals".

The aim of the meeting was to share knowledge, experiences and information regarding the current situation on nursing and midwifery in Serbia, and to identify additional country-specific recommendations for each of the 4 priority action areas of the European strategic directions.

Representatives of the Ministry of Health; national public health institutions; educational institutions; the national association for nurses, midwives and other health workers; and a health centre attended the meeting. All participants highlighted the need to establish and develop national partnerships between ministries, chambers of health professionals, health institutions and the national employment service and expressed their interest in a close collaboration with WHO.

The participants jointly came up with conclusions and recommendations.

Action area 1: scaling up and transforming education

Participants made 3 recommendations.

  • While reforming education in secondary medical schools and harmonizing the education process from secondary to college and university education, accreditation standards of new curricula should be aligned with Health 2020 goals.
  • Define competencies of nurses and midwives and include them in educational curricula.
  • Regulate continuous professional development and standards of practice of nursing and midwifery.

Action area 2: workforce planning and optimizing skill mix

Participants agreed to:

  • develop health workforce planning and forecasting according to population needs aligned with international principles; and
  • introduce and implement integrated and coordinated health care along with a suitable skill mix of health professionals.

Action area 3: ensuring positive work environments

The recommendations were to:

  • amend the catalogue of jobs ("Katalog radnih mesta u oblasti zdravstva, drugi nacrt") in order to recognize qualifications of nurses and midwives; and
  • improve continuously the working conditions of health workers, and ensure health and safety at work.

Action area 4: promoting evidence-based practice and innovation

4 main conclusions were reached.

  • Include research competencies in curricula.
  • Create conditions for nursing and midwifery research to establish and develop evidence-based practices in these fields.
  • Involve nurses and midwives in multidisciplinary teams.
  • Conduct studies on the quality of services provided by nurses considering their level of education.

Strengthening nursing and midwifery towards Health 2020

Nurses and midwives together form the largest group of health professionals in all countries, and they are central to delivering safe, high-quality, effective and efficient health services. The knowledge, skills and service delivery models employed by nurses and midwives should change in step with the changes in service needs and population health demands to ensure the full potential of this large and important group of health workers is realized.

The European strategic directions serves as a framework to develop strategic actions, offering clear and specific means for maximizing nursing and midwifery potential and enabling their full contribution for supporting Health 2020 implementation with clear action lines.