Building a Responsible Health System: AmCham Second Healthcare Conference on Access to Medicine and Data

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“A Glimpse into the Future of Our Healthcare System” was the title of a healthcare conference that the American Chamber of Commerce in North Macedonia (AmCham) hosted today in Skopje. It was attended by relevant public policymakers, domestic and international experts, corporate sector leaders, non-governmental sector and academic community representatives.

During her opening speech, Aleksandra Ivanovska, the General Manager Roche North Macedonia and Kosovo and Chair of the Health Committee at AmCham, called for immediate prioritization of the health agenda and sustainable projections on the national health system development where all citizens have an equal access to modern, affordable medical care that meets their needs. For the health system to be built in a way that can effectively respond to future challenges and evolving citizen needs, she underlined the importance of improved access to medications, digitalization, and the use of data in the creation of health policies.

The world-renowned health expert and consultant and Director of Health at Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, Bogi Eliason delivered the conference’s keynote address. With an emphasis on the improvement of preventative healthcare to lower the prevalence of chronic diseases in the population, Eliason provided an overview of the future development of sustainable health systems. Thus, according to him, health care should be an investment, not an expense for countries. He believes that such progress can be achieved by using knowledge, innovation and technologies. It actually allows the so-called “fourth industrial revolution”, which includes new biological knowledge, efficient data usage and digital connectivity, advanced graphic presentation and analysis of integrated data, as well as use of new smart and nano materials.

He was followed by Marcin Czech, Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacoeconomics at the Institute of Mother and Child in Warsaw, who gave a presentation entitled: “Access to medicines – registration and reimbursement”. Czech explained that North Macedonia is among the countries with the smallest investments in the healthcare of citizens, compared to the countries of the region and especially to those in the European Union. In order to overcome such situation, he offered five points for improvement: increased registration of medicines available on the market, expansion of the positive list, introduction of conditional budgets for hospitals for access to innovative medicines, implementation of programs for innovative medicines for rare diseases and greater transparency in the collection and analysis of patient treatment data.

Czech’s presentation served as an excellent introduction to the panel “Access to medicines – a fundimental element of the right to health”, moderated by Valentina Mitrova from Association of the representatives of innovative pharmaceutical industry in Macedonia Farmabrend Nova together with: Mr. Fatmir Mexhiti, the Minister of Health, Mrs. Magdalena Filipovska Graškoska, the director of the Health Insurance Fund, Mrs. Ana Daneva Markova, the health advisor to the RSM Government, Mr. Robert Bekirovski, the deputy director of MALMED, as well as Mrs. Vesna Popova from the pharmaceutical company Zegin. Their discussion was focused on the process of unlocking the positive list of medicines and the creation of national health policies, emphasizing the efforts that are being made in order to register a greater number of molecules. Also, financial projections and budgetary implications of placing new medications on the positive list were part of the first panel discussion.

The second part of the conference highlighted the need for relevant and precise data that can be used in the creation of health policies and identifying areas where new structural reforms are needed.

First, Mr. Mark Boyd of the Open Data Institute discussed the significance of secondary use of health data, emphasizing its role in health system optimization, treatment monitoring, cost reduction, and medical innovation. Following his presentation, a panel discussion on the “State of Secondary Use of Health Data and Policy Recommendations” featured the following speakers: Lorraine Silver Wallace from Ohio State University, Milana Trucl from the European Patients Forum, Zhaklina Chagarovska from the Ministry of Health and Riste Jurukovksi from Varus.

The panelists discussed the need of utilizing data from electronic systems such as “Moj Termin” and “Moe zdravje” in order to develop a health system that places the patient at the center of its operations. Following the example of modern European healthcare practices, the participants jointly shared a message about the need for aggregated and integrated data that will be transparently available to the public and to professionals in the field for the purpose of additional analyses and research. This panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Maja Kambovska, Healthcare System Partner at Roche Macedonia, who is also an important part of our AmCham Health Committee.

In the last panel of the conference, entitled “At a turning point: North Macedonia healthcare system”, representatives of the four largest political parties in the country have participated: Mr. Bekim Tateshi (AA), Mr. Haris Karaxhenemi (DUI), Mr. Venko Filipche (SDSM) and Mr. Igor Nikolov (VMRO-DPMNE). The panelists have shared their thoughts and political visions of how they think the country’s health care system should look in the future, explaining the key steps for the implementation of which they, as political stakeholders, will advocate.

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