In Albania, traditionally, most of the population’s contacts with the health system occur at the health center level and many health problems are addressed by general practitioners or even nurses in primary health care facilities (especially in remote areas). However, demographic, and epidemiological changes, ever-increasing expectations for health care, linked with the high risks of increasing inequalities, require more support, adaptation, and reform in primary health care. Therefore, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP) and its national and international partners, drafted a Strategy for Development of Primary Health Care, applying an inclusive and participatory approach. SDC, through HAP project implemented by SwissTPH, supported MoHSP through technical assistance provided by international and national experts and additional technical support for the working group throughout the entire process. The strategic document, together with the action plan for the period 2020-2025, was approved by the Albanian Council of Ministers in late May 2020.
The PHC strategy determines the pathways the primary health care system will follow to better and efficiently address the health needs of all communities and different groups of population. Better access of vulnerable communities to health care services will be achieved through better horizontal integration of the various professionals working at the community level, as well as vertical integration (continuity of care between PHC and hospital/other specialty areas). New service models will be set up to meet the most pressing needs identified at the community level, such as non-communicable disease prevention and control, home care for the elderly, models of care through digital technology, especially in remote areas, etc.
Health is one of the four thematic areas of support in the Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Albania (2018-2021), with the main objective “a more health-literate and more engaged population benefiting from high-performing and quality primary healthcare services”. As stated in the strategy, Switzerland’s support for the Albanian health system amounts to 12 Million CHF (2018-2021), thus being one of the key international stakeholders in the health domain. In this regard, it is worth stressing that SDC/HAP interventions during the Phase 2 are fully aligned with the main activities planned in the Strategy for development of primary health care services in Albania.