Health system challenges and opportunities for better NCD outcomes, second joint mission, Serbia, 24–28 April 2017

From left to right: Jill Farrington (WHO/EURO), Zsofia Pusztai (WHO Representative Serbia), Meho Mahmutovic (State Secretary), Verica Jovanovic (Institute of Public Health)

As part of a WHO/Europe initiative on health system strengthening to improve outcomes of noncommunicable diseases (NCD), a 6-member WHO expert team visited Serbia for a second joint mission during 24–28 April 2017.

Together with national experts, the WHO team continued a country assessment that aimed to identify and assess those areas of health systems that could potentially contribute to accelerating gains in key NCD outcomes, while producing pragmatic and actionable policy recommendations. During this mission, the Serbian health system was reviewed, specifically focusing on the coverage of individual services related to the assessment and management of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and stroke, as well as early detection and treatment of cancer.

Health system service delivery for NCD patients was assessed including current barriers and challenges but also opportunities to overcome existing obstacles and improve coordination across health service providers. With a view to producing country-specific policy recommendations for effective service delivery, integrating evidence into practice and establishing access and financial protection, the 6-member WHO team met with a range of key stakeholders, relevant public health and clinical experts, hospital staff, expert committees and patient representatives, as well as representatives of a health insurance fund, medicines agency and school of public health. Field visits to Valjevo (West Serbia) and Kragujevac (Central Serbia) provided an insight into the local primary health care clinics, Institutes of Public Health and secondary and tertiary care hospitals.

This activity represents the continuation of work started in November 2016, when the first joint mission took place in Serbia for the specific purpose of reviewing the level of implementation of priority population interventions that are critical to achieving good NCD outcomes.

Support for this activity was provided through the biennial collaborative agreement 2016–2017 between the Ministry of Health of Serbia and WHO/Europe. The initiative is financially supported by WHO/Europe and through a voluntary contribution of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.