Belgrade – On September 24, 2021, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the United Nations Development program (UNDP), marked the donation of equipment to the Public health Institute “Batut” in Belgrade and to 23 local and regional health institutions. Using Information and communications technology (ICT) equipment provided to the National Communication Center and local health institutions, Serbia’s contagious disease and other medical experts will be able to better coordinate their COVID response efforts.
The United States has already provided nearly $5 million in COVID assistance to Serbia, and this donation is just one part of our $1 million Together Against COVID partnership with UNDP.
“These efforts and all of our efforts to help Serbia fight COVID were undertaken in response to priorities identified by our Serbian counterparts. Soon, we will be providing additional support to help raise awareness of the importance of getting vaccinated, because widespread vaccinations are the only way we can get back to normal,” said U.S. Ambassador Anthony Godfrey.
The donated equipment, with a value of $70,000, is operational as of today. USAID also funded the renovation of the office space that houses the National Communication Center. Each of the 23 institutes that constitute the Public Health Network of Serbia (located in Subotica, Zrenjanin, Kikinda, Pančevo, Sombor, Novi Sad, Sremska Mitrovica, Belgrade, Šabac, Valjevo, Požarevac, Kragujevac, Ćuprija, Zaječar, Užice, Čačak, Kraljevo, Kruševac, Niš, Pirot, Leskovac, Vranje and Novi Pazar) were also equipped with new ICT equipment to facilitate real-time crisis communications.
National Communication Center at the Public Health Institute of Serbia ‘Dr Milan Jovanović Batut’ will serve to improve communication and coordination of public health activities in both health emergencies and during our regular daily work. The ability of public health services to quickly assess their resources and activities and respond to health risks in local communities is crucial for health crisis management. One of the main tasks of this Institute and our network of local health centers is precisely to control and prevent the spread of diseases and to stay prepared for any emergency, said doc. dr Verica Jovanović, Director of the Institute of Public Health of Serbia "Dr Milan Jovanović Batut", and added: “The new IT equipment that we received will improve our readiness to address the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The new National Communication Center will help “Batut” better coordinate the ongoing vaccination process and direct public health resources to protect the health of Serbian citizens according to priority needs, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have created a digital network of public health experts throughout the country and ensured that they can communicate with one another 24/7. This exchange of data from the field quickly and continuously will help coordinate the national efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, manage the vaccination process and safeguard the health of all citizens.", said Francine Pickup, UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia.
The "Together against COVID" project funded by USAID and implemented by UNDP is being undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, the Institute for Public Health "Dr Milan Jovanović Batut", and the General Secretariat of the Government. The project is helping Serbian institutions to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the areas of health, social and environmental protection.