25. October 2023

ICARS Engages with Key Stakeholders in Kosovo, Addressing the Country’s Unique AMR Challenges

In September 2023, ICARS’ Scientific Director, Dr Robert Skov, and Science Officer, Dr Wesal Zaman, travelled to Kosovo on a scoping visit to learn about its healthcare system and to meet with local researchers with ICARS’ Senior Science Advisor, Dr Nandini Sreenivasan engaging online. In addition to laying the groundwork to support the local team with their proposal development, they engaged with key stakeholders from Kosovo’s Ministry of Health. The visit was vital in strengthening the cooperation between ICARS, the Kosovo Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Public Health of Kosovo.

During their visit, the ICARS team had the pleasure of attending the launch event of the national guidelines on antibiotic use arranged by the Ministry of Health in Kosovo. At the event, Robert Skov spoke as a presenter and a panellist, emphasising the global burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the necessity of taking political action. He also highlighted ICARS’ unique top-down and bottom-up approach, bringing relevant actors together to develop solutions to AMR. With hundreds of participants and central ministerial officials, the event facilitated and solidified ICARS’ partnership with the country’s stakeholders, expressing both political will and commitment to mitigating AMR.

“Our scoping visit to Kosovo revealed a pressing challenge in the overuse of antibiotics at the primary healthcare centres. Kosovo’s health leadership is wholeheartedly committed to supporting ICARS’s mission, and we are confident that our capable local team will make our engagement there highly fruitful.” 

– Dr Wesal Zaman, Science Officer at ICARS.

“The Ministry of Health has acknowledged the importance of addressing AMR and has taken multiple measures to tackle this issue. With the expertise, resources, and dedication of ICARS, and with the support of the Ministry of Health, we can join forces to make considerable progress in the fight against AMR”.

– Dr Arben Vitia, Kosovo’s Minister of Health.

To gain insights into the healthcare practices in Kosovo, Robert Skov and Wesal Zaman visited three different Main Family Medical Centres across the country. Following their dialogues with healthcare doctors, nurses, and quality controllers – they were able to gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of healthcare delivery in Kosovo. This field trip was an important step forward in co-developing solutions to the challenge of inappropriate antibiotic use for upper respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in Kosovo’s primary care sector.

“Hosting ICARS was truly an honour and privilege. The process of co-developing a project provided invaluable experience for our core team and had a synergy of our partnership. We are motivated to use this momentum working hand in hand to tackle AMR through our project of introducing an antimicrobial stewardship program at the primary healthcare level”.

– Dr Lul Raka, Kosovo’s Core Team Lead.

Following this insightful and fruitful visit, the ICARS team looks forward to deepening the partnerships with healthcare professionals, research institutions and ministries in Kosovo and forging new ones to effectively mitigate the consequences of AMR in the country across additional sectors.

“I appreciate Kosovo’s dedicated efforts to combat this issue, and it was a privilege to join a panel discussion alongside the Minister of Health. Together, with the exceptional support of our local core team led by Lul Raka, we are taking a major step in Kosovo’s journey to tackle AMR”.

– Dr Robert Skov, Scientific Director at ICARS