At the 4th Western Balkan Digital Summit (11-13 October 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro), attended by representatives from the Western Balkan (WB) countries, WHO Regional Director, Dr Hans Hanri P. Kluge, made several strategic statements regarding development of the healthcare system in the Western Balkan region.
Hans Kluge emphasized the importance of investing and accelerating the transition to digital health, in order to reform the healthcare system in the region and move it from a responsive to a proactive system.
Furthermore, he announced that the WHO/Europe, together with representatives of the WB states, will launch a Roadmap for Health in the Western Balkans in December 2021. This roadmap is developed to provide a framework that focuses on county/region-specific health goals and priorities for the period 2021-2025.
Moreover, the WHO/Europe Western Balkans Digital Health Subregion Network has been launched. It is the WHO’s first strategic regional tool for digital health to underpin the emphasis on accelerating the digital transformation of the health system and bringing together partners from different sectors. This initiative will provide “the next level of visibility, engagement, standardization and cooperation in the digital health adoption in economies” (Kluge. H.). It was also emphasized that the digital transformation of healthcare is a necessary measure in response to COVID-19. In addition, it will become a key accelerator of the EU integration.
The WHO/Europe Western Balkans Digital Health Subregion Network will support initiatives, actions and commitments of the Roadmap for Health in the Western Balkans. This, in turn, will strengthen digital health initiatives in public health priorities, and support the implementation of the WHO’s European Program of Work 2020–2025.
The Western Balkan region is comprised of Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, North Macedonia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.