You graduated in 2018. What have you been up to since?
The Republic of Kosovo has long been in need for a significant overhaul of healthcare system. Yet, due to the lack of domestic health policy and health economy experts, not a lot of progress has been made. Foreign experts have been of great help, but as per their short-term engagements, a lot of ideas were difficult to implement and remained only at the planning stage.
Upon my return, I was engaged as a health economics consultant at the Ministry of Health. My core focus was on the functionalization of the Health Insurance Fund in Kosovo, a scheme to be done for the first time in Kosovo. Parallel to this, I was also lecturing at a private collage, at the programme on healthcare management. Afterwards, I joined the cabinet of the President of the Assembly in Kosovo, as a health policy adviser working closely with the committee of healthcare and monitoring the situation with COVID-19. Having experience within public institutions and recognizing the pertaining social issue, I ran for member of parliament and got elected as an MP at the age of 26.
How did your programme prepare you for your career?
Beyond the incredible experience at such reputable higher education institutions, and having the chance to be a student of the most respected departments around the world within the area of health-care, the programme gave me a better understanding of key challenges in healthcare and opened many doors through the connections I made. It equipped me with the necessary theoretical findings and technical skills to be able to quantify problems, and reach the most suitable and effective solution. Understanding the linkage between economics and operation of health markets and health institutions, helped me in health policy design and implementation.
Why did you apply for the programme?
Having experienced some of the healthcare challenges in Kosovo first hand, I wanted to study a programme that would allow me to contribute to a reformed system back home. A number of modules truly attracted me, and were very unique in comparison to other programs I had come across.
And of course the allure of studying in one of the most metropolitan cities in the world! LSE itself offers the right balance between the classic and the moderns; one experiences a unique time travel as it moves from the Old Building to the New Academic Building. So much history at the center of the one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Another highly important aspect was the staff, highly respected professors with vast practical and academic experience across the world; building systems and designing ways to identified problems.
What was the most challenging thing about the programme?
The programme focus on building the professional capacities of the student, and developing student’s analytic thinking but challenging their understanding. The programme is demanding and requires one’s full dedication to absorb the material treated within courses and to reach the standard required by the professors.
All this to influence students to treat world programmes and develop new approaches to identified issues. Some of the students may also need a bit of time to adapt to the education system in the United Kingdom, which may be different from their previous model. The change of the education model, also affects one’s learning strategy. Yet, the support system within the department and at LSE, is a great helping hand in overcoming this.
And what did you enjoy the most, or find the most valuable?
LSE gave me a unique experience and ability to gain a prestigious qualification. I come from a small place where the majority of people have similar background and have not travelled beyond the region. By contrast, London is a remarkably diverse and I throughout enjoyed being about to make friends and develop ties with students from all around the world.
The network I have built during my time at LSE has helped me in identifying new opportunities and working on joint research projects. Also, considering the sensitivity of my current role, my LSE colleagues have always been willing to share their opinion and help me in decision-making. This has been quite the case during the period of facing COVID-19 pandemic.
Any advice to students about to embark on a programme with the LSE Department of Health Policy?
Healthcare is a rapidly changing market, which has gained the interest of many stakeholders. The importance of having a strong and stable health sector has increased especially after encountering the pandemic COVID-19, and recognizing the multiplicative effect it produced. Hence, there is an increased demand worldwide for health policy experts and health economics. Their role shall be on designing and prioritizing investment policies under scarce resources, evaluating current programmes, proposing cost-effective approaches, and ensuring these policies increase overall wellbeing.
I would encourage all students to maximize the opportunities that studying at the LSE offers, to learn from the material and experience of the professors. Pay great attention to the economics models as you will encounter them once you joint the market. Also, do take part at the networking events organized by the department, as it is an excellent opportunity to meet people from your field of interest.
What are the greatest changes you hope to achieve in your new position as MP?
The healthcare system in Kosovo is incredibly fragile, which puts a significant financial burden on our citizens to meet the shortfall. As a representative of the people in Parliament, one of my top priorities will be to review policies related to financial coverage from healthcare expenditure, especially those related to COVID-19. I will work closely with the government to urgently increase the healthcare budget and to minimize the negative effects on the economy and social wellbeing.
While in the long-term, we must look to implement a Health Insurance Fund and Health Information Systems; increase the presence of woman and youth in the labor market and create modalities that ease access to financing for these categories; design policies to improve the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in the community, including children with disabilities who at present have little to no support.