7.2 Administration and governance
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There are four key policies of youth health in Serbia (Youth and Public Policy in Serbia, 2014):
- Strategy for Youth Health Development in the Republic of Serbia,
- National Youth Strategy,
- Law on Health Care,
- Decree on the National Health Care Programme for Women, Children and Youth
The Strategy for Youth Health Development in the Republic of Serbia, designed by the Ministry of Health, is the main document for regulating youth health in Serbia. Its main objective is to promote preventive health action among youth.
The National Youth Strategy gives a special attention to youth health dedicating an entire strategic goal to this matter. Its objectives are to protect and improve health and well-being, to prevent and decrease health risks and develop a youth-friendly health protection system, to enable healthy lifestyles and improve measures for housing and independence of young people. The Strategy identifies two main specifically vulnerable groups of youth: the youth with disabilities and vulnerable and marginalized groups which refers to youth without parental care, the homeless, youth in institutions for social rehabilitation, the poor, members of national minorities, youth in need of special support, refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Law on Health Care regulates the health care system and the right to health care in the Republic of Serbia while the Directive for Health Protection of Women, Schoolchildren and Students regulates the implementation of health care and determines the programme for its implementation.
Youth health policy is implemented by the Ministry of Health together with other institutions that are directly responsible for the provision of services outlined by the policies. Thus, the Ministry of Youth and Sports cooperate with the Ministry of Health to achieve goals set by the National Youth Strategy related to youth health.
The Ministry of Health is an umbrella authority for central regulation and supervision of health care. The National Assembly elects the members of the National Health Council and the Ethics Board of Serbia while different expert bodies are being appointed by the Minister.
The National Health Council consists of the representatives of the ministry in charge of health affairs, other competent ministries and other state bodies, institutes of public health and holders of public authority, as well as independent experts in the field of public health. It is responsible for the quality and development of the health care system, organization of health services, and health insurance system.
The Ethics Board of Serbia is responsible for the implementation of the provision of health care in Serbia on the principles of professional ethics, human and child’s right.
The Ministry of Health is supported by several state authorities such as the National Public Health Institute with its network of regional branches, National Agency for Drugs and Medical Devices, National Agency for Accreditation of Health Care Institutions
The Public Health Institute of Serbia implemented different programmes related to youth health. As local institutions for primary health care (dom zdravlja) are responsible for preventive health care activities, most of the projects and activities are organized within these institutions. The formulated programmes and projects address issues like smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, and STDs. Other programmes targeting youth include protection of reproductive health, aiming at educating health workers about working with youth on sensitive issues of sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive health; violence prevention among youth, aiming at educating health and social workers who work with youth and establishing a social support network for youth in need; a national programme for the prevention of abuse of drugs and alcohol, aiming at early diagnosis of drug and alcohol abuse, education of family members, etc.( Youth and Public Policy in Serbia, 2014)
General distribution of responsibilities
The Ministry of Health has the overall responsibility in supervision of health care thus, the health services are provided through a wide network of public health care institutions overseen by the Ministry of Health. At the level of autonomous province, regional, and municipal/local levels, the responsible bodies are provincial, regional, or municipal/local health authorities.
The basic organizational structure of the Serbian health care system consists of a network of the state-owned health institutions. Provision of health services for youth is organized on primary, secondary, and tertiary levels where all 3 levels are functionally interconnected to a single system. Medical institutions in private ownership are not fully integrated into the system even though initiatives for integration of private sector into health care system were undertaken by the Ministry of Health (The Child Health Care System of Serbia,2016).
The Ministry of Health cooperates mostly with the Ministries of Social Protection, Education, Youth, and Sports, and then with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Labour.