Around 50 delegates representing the Ministries of Health and National Health Institutes from the Western Balkans (WBs) gathered at the CEI headquarters in Trieste, on 28-30 September, for the second CEI-WHO/Europe inter-country/area meeting on Scaling-up Strategies for Primary Health Care.
Secretary General, Roberto Antonione, who opened the three-day event, remarked that it was time to make good use of the lessons learned since the outbreak of the pandemic; and that the CEI, an intergovernmental organisation with a strong territorial and institutional presence, was to be responsible for understanding the complexity of current times before others, and thus set new priorities according to ongoing changes.
As highlighted by Gundo Weiler— WHO/Europe Director of the Divison of Country Support and Emergencies "The last years saw the development of the collaboration between the CEI and WHO/Europe to a highly-advanced level”. In this framework and building on the success of last year’s work, high-level representatives from the WBs expressed their joint commitment for action on accelerating an equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and closing the health gap between the subregion and the EU. This was also underlined by Melitta Jakab, Head of the WHO European Center for Primary Health Care.
The Conference aimed at further implementing the “Roadmap for Health and Wellbeing in the Western Balkans (2021-2025)”, with specific focus of the Trieste event placed on non-communicable diseases, digital health and mental health. In order to inspire concrete actions for better health in the WBs, a study visit was organised to share good practices from the Trieste Healthcare Authority of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region.
As explained by Gian Matteo Apuzzo, CEI focal point for Health Strategy and Emergency Response: “In accordance with its mission of bridging EU and non-EU Countries, the CEI was selected as a platform for the implementation of the WHO Roadmap for the WBs— as reflected by its formal endorsement by the WBs’ Heads of Government on the occasion of the CEI 2021 Summit in Budva. The Trieste meeting builds from the great cooperation efforts between the CEI and WHO/Europe with the specific objective of creating the best framework for sharing good practices and fostering knowledge exchange at regional, national and European level”.
CEI Deputy Secretary General, Nina Kodelja, who moderated the event, addressed participants highlighting that their presence reaffirmed the CEI’s strong bridging role, aimed at aligning regional and sub-regional cooperation with transnationally shared principles and guidelines; describing it as a driving force to encourage further joint actions.
The event represented another building block in the CEI-WHO collaboration and a milestone in defining a CEI Health Agenda, in line with the Countries’ needs to lead to the development of healthcare systems that can guarantee equal and sustainable access to health and social care.
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