Self-assessment of essential public health operations in Kosovo
Keywords:disease prevention, EPHO, health promotion, health protection, Kosovo, participatory approach, public health
Aim: The National Institute of Public Health of Kosovo (NIPHK) considered the challenge of assessing the availability and performance of critical public health services in Kosovo. To this end, support was requested from the World Health Organization (WHO) European Regional Office, through the WHO office in Pristina, for an action-oriented process. The systematic process of the self-assessment of public health operations aimed to generate sufficient empirical evidence to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the country’s health services and functions to provide recommendations for future public health actions in Kosovo.
Methods: The NIPHK team followed the systematic self-assessment methodology of the Essential Public Health Operations (EPHO) model that the WHO’s regional office for Europe developed. The appraisal was conducted throughout 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 and involved a broad spectrum of public health actors. It also followed a participatory, interdisciplinary, and inter-sectoral approach. It was developed in three phases: preparation and collection of information, analysis and interpretation of the data, and critical recommendations for the Kosovo health authorities’ consideration.
Results: The assessment resulted in an overall score of 48% sufficiency for the set of public health operations (core and enablers). The most in need of development were EPHO 6, which is related to governance (only 20% of what is needed in this dimension as a whole), followed by EPHO 3, which considers vital aspects of health protection (35%), and EPHO 10, which is related to research capacities (40%). Based on the EPHO assessment results, the specialized teams developed a set of priority recommendations to strengthen the implementation of the EPHOs in Kosovo.
Conclusion: The self-assessment revealed that, despite ongoing initiatives and measures to strengthen public health, the application of EPHOs has much room for improvement. We believe that decision-makers can use this method and the findings that it reveals to implement the most effective interventions to protect and promote the population’s health. In addition, the methodology and experience can be used for educational and training purposes.
Acknowledgments: We acknowledge the work of the national working group, participating experts, and institutions in the EPHO assessment process, without which the self-assessment exercise would not have been possible. We thank the members of the WHO’s regional office for Europe and the WHO’s office in Pristina for assisting in the work of the national working group by providing expertise and logistical support. We also thank Professor Laura E. Cruz for her contribution to the English editing of this paper.
Sources of funding: Work regarding the self-assessment was funded by the WHO’s regional office for Europe, the WHO’s office in Pristina, the National Institute of Public Health, and the Ministry of Health of Kosovo.
Conflicts of interest: The authors of this article were part of the national working group for the self-assessment process. The first author (MB) received a consultancy fee from the WHO for coordinating, collecting, and analyzing the data required for the assessment reported in this article. The co-author (MM) received a consultancy fee through a professional assignment from WHO. The last author (JMM) also played a consulting role through a professional assignment from WHO.
Disclaimer: The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this publication, and they do not necessarily represent the decisions or policies of the WHO.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Merita Berisha, Naser Ramadani, Florie Miftari Basholli, Naim Jerliu, Isme Humolli, Ardita Tahirukaj, Maria Maraokuli, Jose M. Martin-Moreno
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