Within the Institute for Public Health (IJZ) in Podgorica, the construction of the Public Health Operations Center for Emergency Situations (PHEOC), the first of its kind in the Balkans, has begun. The value of the investment is EUR 3 million, and the construction of the center is fully financed by the European Union. As announced, the center is expected to be operational in 2024.
– After 45 years, Montenegro shows that health care is the priority of all priorities, by laying the third foundation stone within the health system, in a very short period of time. This is also confirmed by the construction of the Operations Center, which is a pilot project in this part of the world, and which will be a key place for coordinating the activities of the health system in extraordinary circumstances – said Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, the Ministry of Health announced.
The Prime Minister pointed out that this shows that our system, although not too big, can be a good example for other countries for what needs to be done in the coming period and that together we create the conditions for such projects to develop in all parts of Montenegro.
– With the opening of the Clinic for Mental Health and the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Dermatovenerology, the Operational Center for Emergency Situations, which will be a functional unit of the Institute for Public Health, will complete our vision of a clear commitment that without investment in the health system, there is no progress in a society – said the Minister of Health Dragoslav Šcekić.
The minister reminded that during the period of the COVID pandemic, Montenegro was faced with serious shortcomings that drew attention to the necessity of the existence of just such a center for communication and coordination of the management of emergency situations in healthcare.
– With the help of our friends from the European Union, which is fully financing the construction of the Center for Emergency Situations, with around EUR 3 million, from next year we will be able to wait for potential epidemics and crises with less anxiety – said the Minister of Health, referring to the EU expressions of gratitude for this, but also help for investments in other facilities in the health system.
Šćekić emphasized that the Government of Montenegro is unequivocally determined to keep the health of the population as an imperative in the creation of its policies and reminded that at this moment, almost EUR 24 million of investments have been started in the health system.
– The Clinic for Mental Health, the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Dermatovenerology, as well as the Operational Center for Emergency Situations are already in the construction phase and I believe that they will be completed within the clearly defined deadlines. In November, work began on the reconstruction of the Dr. Vaso Ćuković Special Hospital in Risno. With an investment of over two million euros, we want this institution of recognizable reputation in its field to get the conditions for patients and doctors that they deserve. With new investments, we want to achieve the European standard in the field of laboratory diagnostics, so we started the adaptation and reconstruction of nine microbiological laboratories on the territory of the whole country – Šćekić said.
As he stated, the works, as well as the new equipment, are worth around EUR 2 million.
– I especially want to mention that tenders for magnetic resonance imaging have been announced for hospitals in Bijelo Polje, Nikšić and Bar, which will significantly reduce the workload of the Clinical Center, and enable patients from the northern, central and southern regions to receive faster diagnostics on modern devices. A tender for the procurement of scanners for KCCG has been announced, as well as tenders for the reconstruction of general hospitals in Berane and Bijelo Polje – he added.
According to him, the projects for which a call for tenders for conceptual architectural solutions is expected are the construction of the General Hospital in Pljevlja, the Emergency Block of the Clinical Center of Montenegro, the City Health Center…
– In addition, the procurement of state-of-the-art mammograms for the hospitals in Kotor and Berane is underway. In this way, the screening program will be extended to the territory of the entire country for the first time. Hospitals in Berane and Kotor will become regional health centers with modern angio rooms, for which tenders have also been announced. The units of the Institute for Emergency Medical Assistance in several municipalities have been reconstructed and adapted, the stations in Gusinj and Ulcinj will soon be completed, and I believe that in a year almost every facility of the Emergency Medical Service will be completely new – Minister Šćekić announced.
He”stated that a lot is being invested in personnel capacities, and that 202 specializations and 28 sub-specializations will be approved in the annual plan of specializations and narrower specializations for 2023.
– What is also important and what I want to emphasize is that during this year 2023, we expect 138 doctors to return to the system from training, namely 90 doctors of medicine with completed specialization and 48 specialists who have completed training in narrow specialist areas. The army of these young professionals will greatly strengthen the health care system and help improve health care at all levels, said the Minister of Health – Šćekić concluded.
The head of the Cooperation Sector of the EU delegation, Ingve Engström, said that the EU is donating EUR 2.5 million for the construction of the Center, for which the first structures have already been installed, as well as that an additional million EUR has been provided for the operation of the Emergency Operations Center, in cooperation with partners from World Health Organization.
– This support is part of a larger EU aid package, worth over EUR 130 million, which helps Montenegro cope with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic made it clear that Montenegro needs investments in the health system in order to better prepare to respond to emergency health situations. That is why the EU decided to finance this Operational Center. We hope that it will improve the resilience of the Montenegrin health system, as well as protect the lives of Montenegrin citizens in the future. The EU has been with Montenegro since the first day of the pandemic. We delivered emergency protective equipment to healthcare workers. We provided vaccines for citizens and equipment for hospitals. We’ve helped small businesses and vulnerable families survive tough times. The pandemic made it clear that Montenegro needs investments in the health system, in order to be better prepared to respond to emergency health situations. That is why the EU decided to finance this Operation Center – said Engstrom.
Director of the Institute for Public Health Dr. Igor Galić pointed out that this is the only public health operational center for emergency situations in the Balkans.
– This important infrastructure project is fully financed from the IPA funds of the European Union and is worth around EUR 3 million, and the work will begin in 2024. The PHEOC will operate in two modes, a standby mode and an emergency response mode, when the entire health system will be activated at full capacity. The center represents the main point for coordination, preparation, response and recovery from emergency situations concerning public health, and it is designed as a place where all information from different sources in the health system will flow in real time. It will also provide data analysis and better coordination of resources for responding to emergency situations in cooperation with partners at the national and international level. PHEOC will be the place where key messages in risk communication will be created, the place from which the implementation of public health measures in emergency situations will be directed and trainings will be organized in this area of activity – explained Dr. Galić.