Issue no. 9: PHC in Albania in COVID-19 context

Returning to normality in green areas

  • As of Monday, both districts where HAP operates (Fier and Dibra) are green areas, which means ease of movement measures. Consequently, residents are receiving normally the services at health centers while adhering to the prevention measures of COVID-19 infection. Pursuant to the instructions of the health authorities, the health centers have taken measures for their implementation through the placement of respective signaling boards regarding the keeping of distance, respiratory hygiene and creation of opportunities for disinfection of hands and premises.

“Currently, the service at Ballagat HC is provided normally. Thanks to the HAP support on the regulation for the control of the infection and COVID-19 training materials published on HAP website, we were able to take appropriate measures in accordance with the working conditions in our health center. Although initially challenging for patients, they have already adapted to the measures against the infection and have adopted a new behavior related to maintaining health, by applying the rules of physical distance, personal hygiene and the use of masks. Posters for social distancing and prevention and protection against COVID-19 infection and disinfectant products have been placed in the center’s premises.”– Dr. Lindita Blliku, Family Physician and Director, Ballagat HC

Resumption of lectures for hight school graduates

  • The high school graduates have resumed the lectures in all high schools. Pursuant to the guidelines of the Institute of Public Health Institute on ‘Staying and moving in schools’, LHCU and health centers have engaged health professionals in each school to ensure the implementation of measures to protect against COVID-19 infection.

HAP's support for PHC teams

  • Throughout the entire period of limited movement, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, HAP has continued to support the health centers in implementing previously planned activities such as those related to meeting the HC accreditation requirements through consultative meetings conducted through remote video conferencing. The fulfillment of the requirements of the basic E4 standard for Infection Control in the HC, through the drafting of the relevant regulation, has been especially helpful to the PHC teams, in terms of COVID-19 infection. Recently, in addition to video conference meetings, HAP has begun holding direct meetings, implementing COVID-19 infection protection measures.

COVID-19 has brought new challenges to everyone, thus the need for supportive discussions and cooperation between health institutions, but not only, is even greater. In this context, cooperation between health centers and Local Health Care Units played an important role in managing the situation locally. In Dibra district, we talked about this with Mr. Hasan Manja, the Director of Dibra LHCU and Dr. Artur Alimani, Director of Maqellara HC.

“Pursuant to the instructions of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and Public Health Institute, we have taken measures since the onset to prevent infection with COVID-19, in close cooperation with health centers and Peshkopi hospital,” said Mr. Manja. – “The first joint responsibility was to monitor the health of persons entering from Bllata border check point, especially after the appearance of the first cases of COVID-19 infection in Northern Macedonia. Then we worked closely with primary care physicians and nurses and Dibra LHCU epidemiologists to track down the suspected cases. I am pleased that there has been no case with COVID-19 infection in Dibra municipality so far. Recently, together with the health centers, we have coordinated in making available nurses and doctors to all high schools to monitor the compliance with preventive measures during the educational process. As in any success, the key is the cooperation and in our case, the cooperation with local structures and health centers has been very good in terms of taking and following the implementation of preventive measures against COVID-19 infection”.

Dr. Arthur tells us how, in cooperation with Dibra LHCU, they organized the service with second and third shifts in both health centers, Maqellara and Bllata border check point. “The cooperation with all local authorities, including the border police, the relevant emergency departments of the Prefecture and the Dibra municipality has been very good”, he said. “Also, Maqellara HC covers some deep rural areas, so cooperation with the authorities and the community that made possible the delivery of medicines at home to chronic patients over 65 years of age should be commended.”