The role of public health services in prevention: The restructuring of public health in Serbia

Sanja Matović Miljanovic, Vesna Bjegovic, Eleanor Hill, Helmut Brand, Kees Schaapveld

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Huge population migration, increasing unemployment and poverty and unhealthy lifestyles (stress, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc), among the population in Serbia, are some of the consequences of the political and economic instability in the Balkan region over the last decade (especially in countries of the former Yugoslavia). Data available reveal that, in Serbia, chronic noncommunicable diseases are the dominant cause of death. The National Burden of Disease and Injury Study, done in 2003, showed that cardiovascular diseases, cancers and injuries are responsible for 80% of the total mortality burden in both males and females. The health-care system of Serbia is excessively centralized. The public health services are based on the traditional hygiene and clinical approach and are predominantly organized through a network of Institutes of Public Health which puts insufficient emphasis on analytical and planning tasks and on health promotion (including the prevention of chronic noncommunicable diseases), and too much emphasis on routine reporting and on activities of a technical and laboratory nature in the field of communicable diseases. Today, with the aid of the EU, UNICEF, the World Bank and NGOs, the Ministry of Health is in the process of expanding the capacities and skills of the public health workforce in order to achieve the "New Public Health". Although progress has been made on several important fronts in achieving the transition to the New Public Health, this does not yet extend to the wider community. Policy documents and legislative instruments have been drafted to guide the reorganization and reorientation of the public health services, especially the network of Institutes of Public Health, and the creation of the Centre School of Public Health has secured the future of professional public health training. The authors argue that the reform of the health sector should be placed within the context of the overall reform of public administration in the country. In this respect, much of the journey still lies ahead, but experience within public health can be used to stimulate, motivate and encourage professionals throughout the civil service to grasp the opportunities for positive change with both hands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-302
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01-11-2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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