Increased commitment of South Eastern European countries to the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases expressed in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova

A pre-forum meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) was held on April 2, 2017 in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, ahead of the Fourth Ministerial Health Forum of South Eastern Europe . The Forum, which took place on 3-4 April, aimed to bring together health ministers to discuss avenues for a closer partnership, under the theme “Health, well-being and prosperity in South-Eastern Europe by 2030 in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ”.

The event brought together National Health Coordinators and National Focal Points on NCD Prevention and Control in Member States of the South East European Health Network (SEEHN) and brought together experts from the ‘WHO. The meeting aimed to assess the progress made by SEEHN countries in implementing the national commitments included in the 2014 UN General Assembly outcome document and the 2011 political declaration.

In her opening remarks, the Deputy Minister of Health of the Republic of Moldova, Aliona Serbulenco, underlined the need for cooperation: a platform to identify and address common challenges. Regarding the prevention and control of NCDs, effective strategies are needed and urgent measures must be taken to control risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, obesity, blood pressure, diet and sedentary lifestyle. The Republic of Moldova has adopted a comprehensive tobacco control law and is in the process of strengthening alcohol control measures. Many efforts are being made at the primary health care level to improve the early detection and management of NCDs ”.

Progress made by the countries of south-eastern Europe in the fight against noncommunicable diseases

SEEHN countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Israel, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – have made considerable progress in the fight against NCDs. One of the important achievements is the recent adoption of new strategies or the revision of old NCD strategies and action plans by the majority of these countries. They also demonstrated remarkable improvements in the implementation of NCD surveillance and management tools, such as cancer registries, cancer screening, and primary care-based interventions. Innovative approaches to tackle NCDs were identified and presented during the meeting. For example, it was pointed out that the field of NCD prevention can be further improved by considering the use of emerging evidence-based tools such as tax policies, better labeling and marketing controls. All countries have shown strong interest in moving forward in the areas of business determinants of health, health workforce, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation, using an intersectoral approach.

Major health gains achieved by working together

Established as an intergovernmental regional cooperation initiative in 2001, SEEHN has shown that the health sector contributes to reconciliation, peace and stability in a post-conflict environment. Its members share a vision of health promotion as an integral part of economic development. In addition to participating in intercountry initiatives, each country invests in health and generates results that inform other members of the Network.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe, through its base in Copenhagen, and the European Office for Noncommunicable Disease Prevention and Control, based in Moscow, Russian Federation, provide full support to States members of the Network for their work in meeting the NCD targets.

Joan J. Holland