Small Countries Health Information Network meets for the first time


The Maltese Ministry for Energy and Health hosted the first meeting of the focal points of the Small Countries Health Information Network (SCHIN) in Valetta on 3 and 4 March 2016.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Health, the Hon. Christopher Fearne, addressed the meeting and expressed both great enthusiasm for the initiative and commitment from Malta. The meeting, which was chaired by Malta, brought together focal points from:

  • Andorra
  • Cyprus
  • Iceland
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • San Marino.

SCHIN's aim is to bring together small countries to exchange experiences and address shared health information challenges, for example, by implementing a harmonized approach to data collection so as to minimize the reporting burden of Member States. Discussions focused on the strengths and weakness of the health information system of each country, as well as expectations of the Network. Representatives agreed on joint steps that could be taken by countries to meet common challenges.

Agreement on way forward

Health 2020 and Sustainable Development Goal indicators were also discussed, and agreement was reached on terms of reference, and a scope and purpose for the Network. Also on the agenda were harmonization of valid comparable data and potential joint reporting of indicators, potentially establishing a minimum data set for small countries, as well as SCHIN's participation in the European Health Information Initiative through its chair.   

WHO/Europe presented on the burden of reporting and proposed various undertakings such as establishing a small country average for reporting. A detailed workplan was developed for SCHIN, and progress achieved will be discussed at the next meeting of the focal points in Monaco in October 2016.

Dr Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation, commented, "We are very grateful to our hosts for their support and to the Ministry for Energy and Health and the Hon. Christopher Fearne, for the strong leadership and support of SCHIN. We are delighted to see the Network make such rapid progress and look forward to working with Malta as chair of the Network over the next two years."


SCHIN sprang from WHO/Europe's small countries initiative, which was established in 2013 to bring together the 8 countries with a population of less than 1 million in the WHO European Region. SCHIN was first proposed at the high-level meeting of ministers of small countries in Andorra in 2015.