Albania’s Minister of Health, Petrit Vasili, is overseeing an ambitious long term effort to upgrade Albania’s healthcare system. Among many recent projects, in 2009 the minister presented the results of a successful six year effort to develop Albania’s primary healthcare system; this initiative has made high quality primary healthcare services available to people all over Albania, including in remote areas.
Albania’s Ministry of Health has also implemented new e-health services, upgraded treatment of HIV/AIDS patients, and, with support from the government of Japan, recently launched a programme to improve emergency care throughout the country.
In this programme, Japan will provide advanced life support ambulances, CT scanners, patient monitors and other emergency lifesaving equipment to Mother Theresa Paediatric Hospital, Kukes Regional Hospital, and other hospitals.
Upgrading financing structures for healthcare
In a major step forward, Albania’s Ministry of Health is modernising its financing structures for healthcare with the help of a World Bank loan. Reforms of the healthcare system that will be supported by this loan include strengthening mechanisms to allocate funds and select benefi ciaries in Albania’s main social assistance programme; initiating the process to create a unified registry of beneficiaries of social assistance programmes; and enhancing the efficiency and equity of healthcare spending.
In addition to the World Bank, the USAID, the UN and a number of other international organisations have provided assistance to Albania as it upgrades its healthcare sector, and the Ministry of Health continues to form international partnerships related to healthcare. In 2010, Petrit Vasili addressed a meeting of the International Labour Organisation in Tirana which focused on occupational health and safety. At the event, Minister Vasili said, “Albania has established a new occupational health and safety law and the Ministry of Health will play an important role in ensuring that this law is implemented. We need to further develop the legislative framework in this field, and I would also like to see stronger collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the International Labour Organisation.”
Providing high quality healthcare means having a clear picture of local healthcare needs, and Albania completed its first Demographic and Health Survey in 2010. Of this effort, Petrit Vasili said, “Population based studies of this magnitude are a major undertaking that provide information on important indicators which measure the progress of a country.” Albania is clearly committed to bringing its healthcare sector up to international standards.