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Filed under: Development Guest posts Health HIV

summer school participants on a roof in venice

Life in Venice: Applicants from WHO European Region Member States shared ideas and meals during the summer school

Early last month, I was honoured to have the opportunity to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina at Observatory Venice Summer School 2014, a six-day networking and educational event.

Thanks to the financial assistance of UNDP in Europe and Central Asia‘s HIV, Health and Development team, I was able to meet with more than 40 specialists from the global health sector.

I also got the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience with like-minded representatives of some key health organizations from around the world.

Through presentations, workshops, discussions, and debates, we shared our personal expertise and exchanged new ideas, with one primary objective: to improve the management, organization, and effectiveness of health care systems around the world.

We asked ourselves:

What are the challenges the global health sector is currently facing? More importantly, how can we address them?

One lecture I particularly enjoyed focused on national medical policies in Europe, and around the world.

Although these policies aim to be efficient and adjustable to specific circumstances, they rarely are in practice.

In our discussions, we agreed that these policies should include better coordination all around—between prevention and treatment, screening and early diagnosis, hospital and outpatient sectors, and among different health professionals, both within and across countries.

One subject that hit close to home was the Health technology assessment (HTA) - a tool that can be used to identify basic essential care packages in a particular health care system, and figure out how they can be extended.

While the health systems in many countries are flourishing as a result of the HTA tool, small countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina currently lack the capacity to integrate an effective HTA system.

That’s a challenge we as a country have to overcome, in order to reap the benefits of this tool.

Another topic that kept resurfacing throughout the event was the procurement of medicines.

A representative from the European Commission shared valuable insights from the experience in dealing with the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

Based on this event, health experts presented the option of joint procurement mechanism to improve preparedness for all cross-border threats to health—and the EC agreed!

This past April, the Commission approved an agreement which aims to facilitate the coordination of practical matters relating to their joint purchasing activities.

Advantages for participating countries include: access to the market, more equitable access to new treatments, improved security of supply, and more balanced, consistent prices for the pharmaceutical industry.

We agreed that this mechanism could be a good tool to secure countermeasures for rare infectious diseases, as well as procure seasonal flu vaccines, anti-retrovirals for HIV/AIDS, TB/Hepatitis treatments/vaccines, and reference laboratory services.

All in all, this event was a great experience.

The open and collaborative atmosphere reaffirmed my belief that by working together and understanding and respecting the needs of both the industry and regulatory authorities, it is possible achieve tremendous results in the field of improving our healthcare systems –  while making the world a better, healthier place.