New models of financing healthcare, strengthening private and public partnerships and the need for digitalization of the health sector should be priorities on the agenda of relevant decision makers in BiH, in order to establish a more functional and quality health system that will provide full service to all patients.

It is a unanimous message from the 1st forum "Health as an investment", held on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 in Sarajevo, organized by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in BiH (UIPL) and IQVIA, leading multinational company for research in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare improvement. The gathering brought together eminent professional, foreign and domestic, names from the world of medicine, pharmacy, economy, IT sector.

The forum was opened by the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in BiH, Deborah Mennuti, and the Head of European Integration, Political, Press and Information Section, Krasimir Nikolov.In their addresses, Excellencies Mennuti and Nikolov supported the need for health care reforms in BiH, following the example of other developed countries. Nikolov also referred to the new report of the European Commission (EC) on BiH's progress in reforms, which was published on October 19, and also touched on the need to improve healthcare in BiH.

"The topics of this forum are of primarily importance for the health sector in BiH, given, especially during the pandemic, depleted resources, and after the time of COVID showed us how much we need a stronger and more flexible system that can respond more quickly and efficiently to the needs of citizens. The goal is ultimately to achieve better cost controls, greater transparency of the health system process and full monitoring of patient treatment outcomes, ”said UIPL Director Ana Petrovic.

The main conclusions of the Forum are: to accelerate the availability of medicines to patients, especially those already approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), to introduce new, more efficient models of financing healthcare, and to implement digitalization and necessary changes in legislation in the BiH health sector.

"In order for any of these conclusions to come to life, we need additional education of health workers and patients, introduction to new technologies in health care, as well as the development of a strategy on digitalization in BiH," Petrovic added.

The panelists agreed with the IQVIA study - Patinet WAIT Study -  it is unacceptable to wait more than 700 days in BiH for a drug registered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and concluded that there is no reason for pharmaceuticalst to approved in the EU will not be available in BiH at the same time.

The Forum presented also an opinion that the new models of financing of the health care in BiH could be found in excises, European funds and the possibility of introducing additional current taxes for certain groups of patients.

Prof. dr. Jasmina Selimović, dean of the School of Economics and Business Sarajevo, pointed out that the current way of financing the health system in BiH is not sustainable.

"Our system is too fragmented and there is no regulation at the state level. Excises are something that is absolutely not used in the right way as a possible income in health care ", stated prof. dr. Selimovic.

Doc. dr. sc. Vlatka Martinović, director of the Institute of Health Insurance and Reinsurance of FBiH, doc. dr. Rasim Jusufović, assistant professor at the Medical Faculty of SSST University, and Michal Pilkiewicz, IQVIA Director General for the Baltic and Adriatic regions, talked about improving the availability of healthcare to patientes. With moderation of doc. dr. Tarika Čatić, from the Medical Faculty of SSST, panelists of the second panel discussion on digitalization had also very practical and significant presentations.

Saša Đurkas, Director of IQVIA Technology Solutions for the Baltic and Adriatic Regions, Amir Sarić, Country Lead for BiH and Albania in Cisco, Igor Bojanić, Technical Director in Lanaco for Healthcare Software Solutions, Samir Dedović, Director of MeDIT Sarajevo, Enes Hatibović, Head of IT Sector at ASA Medical, and ma. iur. Ervin Mujkić, head of the Legal Department at the UKC Tuzla, pointed out that in BiH there is a hardware and software infrastructure to transfer a lot of data from paper to digital format. However, it is necessary to improve the procedures in public procurement, but also to introduce digital literacy of the society to a higher level, as a whole.

On behalf of AmCham in BiH, Secretary General Nedim Hamzić underlined the intention of the organizers that such forums will continue to be a gathering place for ideas and initiatives that will help reforms. Jasmina Efendić, Director of IQVIA for BiH, emphasized the importance of digitization and processing of existing available data in health care in order to improve the transparency of the health sector.

Representatives of the legislative and executive authorities in BiH were also present at the Forum, including the Minister of Health of the Sarajevo Canton, Haris Vranić.