Strengthening Nursing in BiH

Greet Van Malderen

René Schwendimann; Alexander Bisschoff; Alexandra Papis; Dejan Sredic; Eldin Fisekovic; Emira Dropic; Lucien Portenier; Mediha Avdic; Nicolas Perrone; Thomas Vogel

Zusammenarbeit mit
University Hospitals Geneva, Division of International and Humanitarian Medicine (HUG); Swiss Red Cross (SRC); Swiss Nursing Association (ASI/SBK), International Counsel of Nurses (ICN) and WHO collaborating center for primary health care nursing in Maribor

2012 bis 2016


Health systems across the world are faced with increasing health demands due to a rise in chronic diseases and demographic changes while experiencing financial constraints at the same time. Within this changing context, the large nursing workforce has invaluable potential to influence health outcomes by virtue of its number, its adaptive capacity, its understanding of care processes as well as its closeness to patients.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), the current health system and education of health care professionals focus primarily on curative care and contributions by physicians, limiting the potential of the nursing workforce for current and future health needs, particularly those of vulnerable populations. In addition, significant gaps in nursing competencies and practice negatively impact the effective operation of the country’s health system, weaken existing reform achievements (e.g. in family medicine) and leave the country insufficiently prepared for the shifting health care needs of the population.

The project aims to make a sustainable contribution to better health outcomes in BiH by improving the quality and effectiveness of nursing services, in particular at primary health care level, and by increasing access to nursing services for vulnerable groups. In terms of geographical coverage, the project intervenes on a nation-wide basis, simultaneously in both entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The project combines interventions in three areas (components): nurse recognition and quality of nursing services; community nursing and outreach to vulnerable groups and formal nurse education.

The project proposes a long-term intervention in three phases. The first intervention phase (2012-2016) focuses primarily on the first two components, but also builds the foundations for improvement of formal education in the next phases. Planned activities of the first phase amount to CHF 5’131’250.

Through its combined approach of facilitation and implementation and its particular set-up, the project meets the preconditions for a sustainable system change: local ownership, networks and partnerships with major local stakeholders and access to technical expertise in all system component areas.