Day 2 of high-level meeting Health Systems Respond to NCDs: Learning from good examples and real-time problem solving in policy labs


Day 2 of the high-level meeting Health Systems Respond to NCDs kicked off with participants diving directly into policy workshops covering 4 key topics: financing and incentive alignment, health workforce, governance and financing of intersectoral action, and medicines.

Each of the groups identified key challenges related to the topics, and opportunities for leapfrogging. The idea of “leapfrogging” invites countries to speed up the adoption of innovative approaches in addressing the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and to avoid and overcome the hurdles and mistakes that were made in the past.

Four key issues guided the group focusing on the health workforce as a critical enabler to health systems response to NCDs:

  • the need to improve supply by training new workers and utilizing current workers more effectively
  • improving workforce accessibility
  • improving workforce quality
  • aligning workforce policy, planning, regulation and management to support integrated teams.

At the policy workshop on accelerating health systems response to NCDs by providing quality-assured, affordable medicines, participants discussed 3 case studies around medicines selection, prioritization challenges in the face of rising demand for NCD medicines, and the critical need for the acceptance and use of generic medicines.

The workshop on health financing strategies in the WHO European Region explored ways to overcome barriers to the scaling-up of core NCD interventions and services. These barriers include underfunding and weak incentives for health promotion and disease prevention. Participants looking at the strengthening of governance arrangements explored key policies and actions as well as enabling factors and engines for transformation.

Learning from countries

The workshops were followed by a plenary, which introduced good practices examples from:

  • Spain, where risk stratification has been instrumental in moving towards population health management and people-centred care;
  • Kyrgyzstan, where community health volunteers, working together with primary health care providers, have helped increase the detection of hypertension;
  • the United Kingdom, where policies have been put in place based on a horizon scanning exercise on the future health workforce needs to respond to NCDs.

An interactive poster session on good practices in the European Region offered participants the opportunity to discuss ways to move forward by learning from those who had first-hand experience of the challenges and barriers of implementation.

Policy labs: real time problem solving

In the second half of the day, policy labs introduced the challenges that 4 WHO Member States – Estonia, Portugal, Turkey and Ukraine – are currently working on in the area of health systems strengthening for better NCD outcomes. Through moderated discussions, experts proposed policy options for these challenges.

Specifically, Estonia is working on an integrated systems approach to cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes; Portugal on strengthening people-centredness throughout the health system; Turkey on intersectoral approaches to tackling obesity; and Ukraine on strengthening primary care to better respond to NCDs. These policy labs looked at health-care systems while being mindful of the broader determinants of health and the need for the health sector to interact with and influence the broader environment

Day 2 wrapped up with reflections on the importance of designing health-care models around the patient and the need to address the challenge of prioritizing and sequencing, while taking values, motivations and drivers into account.