Annex VI to BS/WG/HP/R(2021)1
Rejuvenation of Collaboration in the Field of Health within BSEC
(A Concept Paper proposed by the Republic of Turkey as the Country Coordinator)
BSEC Working Group on Healthcare and Pharmaceutics (WG) was established within the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in 1996. The main activities of BSEC Member States (MS) in the field of healthcare and pharmaceutics is conducted by the WG with representatives from all MS.
The main objective of the WG is implementing the Action Plans which are the reflection of the resolutions, decisions and the documents adopted by the Ministers responsible for the Healthcare and Pharmaceutics.
The key health priorities and activities are defined by Goal 7 of the “BSEC Economic Agenda Towards and Enhanced BSEC Partnership” document adopted in 2012. The objectives identified in the document are as follows;
- Strengthening cooperation in the sphere of public health and in preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
- Further elaborating the Epidemiological Surveillance and Response Network and establishing a system of regular exchange of information on registered infection diseases among the BSEC MS.
- Exchanging experience in carrying out emergency immunization campaigns and work with hard-to-reach-groups of population.
- Increasing cooperation in the field of sanitary protection.
To this end, WG carried out such activities as;
- Three Meetings of the Ministers of Health of the BSEC MS were held in this area of cooperation: in Athens, on 29 September 2014; in Chisinau, on 5 June 2015 and in Moscow, on 28 June 2016 respectively.
- Three Ministerial Declarations have been adopted;
- Declaration of the Ministers of Health of the BSEC MS (Athens, 29 September 2014)
- Declaration of the Ministers of Health of the BSEC MS on “Enhanced tobacco control measures for better social and economic development”. (Chisinau, 5th June, 2015)
- Declaration of the Ministers of Health of the BSEC MS on “Cooperation in the sphere of quality, effectiveness and safety assurance of medicines” (Moscow, 28 June 2016)
- To follow up the outputs of the Ministerial Meetings WG meetings were held 14 times at technical level.
- During the Chairmanship-in-Office of Hellenic Republic, the Ministers of Health of BSEC has approved “Network for the Emergency Preparedness and Response” which complies with the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure the exchange of information on health threats in real time among the participating BSEC MS.
- WG has also prepared four Action Plans which aim to increase cooperation, solidarity and health capacities among MS (2005-2007, 2010-2011, 2012-2013,2016-2018).
- The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Information Exchange and Cooperation in the Sphere of Quality Assurance of Medicines was signed so far by four Member States, namely Turkey, Moldova, Russia and Armenia.
- “National Registration of Diabetic Patients Project” was proposed by the Moldova Diabetes Patients Association. However, the project could not be implemented.
- Draft Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Sanitary Protection of the Territories of the BSEC Member States also could not be implemented.
- MoU between World Health Organization (WHO) and BSEC has been approved by parties. During the term between 2013 to 2017, BSEC has adopted practical measures to implement the objectives to put forward in the “Declaration of the Ministers of Health of the BSEC MS on Enhanced Tobacco control measures for better social and economic development” which aimed to integrate WHO’s tobacco taxation and control issues into BSEC MS agenda.
COVID-19 has reiterated the importance of regional cooperation to overcome health crises.
International infectious disease threats primarily affect our relations and interactions with our neighbours and countries in the region.
It should not be forgotten that the fight against this global catastrophe can only be won through strong solidarity as well as bilateral, regional and international cooperation.
In this respect, it is necessary to discuss on the regional health security among BESC member countries.
However, it is needed to underline that the pace of WG in BSEC has slowed in recent years while health topic has been prioritized in nearly all international organizations during the COVID-19 process.
Country Coordinator of the Republic of Turkey of the Working Group on Health and Pharmaceutics
BSEC Foreign Ministers Council has nominated Republic of Turkey as the Country-Coordinator of the Working Group on Health and Pharmaceutics at its meeting held on 27 November 2020. In this context, Turkey undertake the coordination of WG for two-year period of 2021-2022.
Main Responsibilities of Country Coordinator;
- To produce regional strategies in the field of health within the scope of BSEC.
- To coordinate, implement and evaluate relevant projects, studies and meetings.
- To develop and maintain relationships with various stakeholders to promote partnership.
As the country coordinator, the main objective of the Republic of Turkey is to accelerate the activities of BSEC in the field of health by using COVID-19 pandemic process as a trigger to achieve this objective. Turkey's activities in the field of health care and pharmaceutics are expected to intensify the cooperation between the BSEC MS and expect to reflect both the national programs and priorities and the regional interests.
Roadmap for Addressing Gaps and Proposals for Filling
- Considering the developments in the current COVID-19 pandemic process, it is necessary to gain momentum under the leadership of the country coordinator in the areas of health-oriented cooperation among MS.
- Reviewing and completing the works initiated in the past as appropriate.
- Clarifying the distribution of roles and responsibilities among MS and existing mechanisms, BSEC Secretariat, BSEC Chairmanship-in-Office and the Country
- Considering past works in field of health in BSEC, it is observed that there is a challenge in the entry into force of legally binding documents and agreements in the form of regulations.
- Conducting sustainable projects at regional scale under the roof of the BSEC increasing the sense of ownership of the Member States.
- The importance of the project for the establishment of Emergency Centres has been better understood during the COVID-19 pandemic process that has been going on for more than a year. In this framework, Turkey aims to prioritize the implementation of Emergency Centres project.
- Various restrictions applied during the pandemic process, many obstacles have arisen in terms of cooperation and joint action in health. This reveals the importance of the use of digital health technologies. In this regard, encouraging webinars and meetings to share experiences and best practices.
The Way Forward
- Organizing a meeting to outline the working principles and goals of the WG in order to increase its effectiveness and efficiency, and create a document during the meeting to this end.
- To hold an evaluation and review meeting with the participation of the experts from MS in order to finalize the past activities and overcome the common challenges.
- To increase the capacity of joint and rapid response to emergency health situations among the BSEC countries in cooperation with WHO GDO Office in İstanbul.
- To open the digital e-learning platform of Turkey (DILES) for knowledge sharing for the use of BSEC MS.
- Strengthening practical cooperation by inviting BSEC MS to the conferences and meetings on the healthcare and pharmaceutics.