The European Region Office for the World Health Organization has launched a series of new reports examining health systems and services in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The five countries are not part of the European Union (EU) and some countries are experiencing political turmoil which no doubt impacts on their healthcare systems.
The WHO is hoping these detailed reports will help policymakers to support the health services within the countries, and for work on the areas highlighted for improvements.
Another element of publishing the health reports is the ability for the countries to work collectively to improve themselves and each other, by being able to access direct comparative data.
The WHO hopes that countries will work together to create more resilient health systems in the region, as well as improving access to care for all.
The new ‘Health Systems in Action Insights’ are pilot reports will provide a baseline which countries can track the progress of their health systems over time.
While many of the countries detailed in the pilot reports have a universal healthcare system, which date back to soviet times. Though with recent disruption from conflict and now the pandemic, many of these systems have struggled to keep up with demand or make the transition to being a completely free and accessible system.
The WHO reported in September 2020, while healthcare in Ukraine was easily accessible and free, with diagnosis and care available, sourcing drugs is difficult and often leaves patients experiencing financial hardship to treat themselves, especially if they have chronic conditions or require long term therapy.
The reports provide these insights for each country:
- provide concise and accessible data on health systems;
- highlight progress and challenges facing national health systems;
- build a baseline so that countries can assess how their health systems develop over time and in relation to other countries; and
- explain the context in which the country’s health system is addressing the priorities of the WHO European Programme of Work (EPW), United Action for Better Health.
The pilot reports all follow a common template that provides analysis and detailed guidance on financing and resourcing health systems, key health challenges, health workforce availability and training, and a spotlight on the impact of COVID-19 on national health services.
Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, Director of Country Health Policies and Systems at WHO/Europe said that: “In a concise and digestible way, the new reports include important insights and information on how countries’ health systems are faring across key areas such as financial protection, access to essential services and primary care.’ She continued: “This new set of data will be key as countries move forward with strengthening and rebuilding their health systems beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”