Conference Summary 2012

We are happy to present you our newest publication – the Conference Summary of the  EHFG 2012!
In this year’s edition you will find reports not only from each parallel forum session but also from every workshop session held in October 2012. Have a look at the Gastein Health Declaration as well!

We would like to thank all Young Forum Gastein Scholars and rapporteurs for their contributions to the Conference Summary.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 16th EHFG, from 02nd to 05th October 2013!

F2: Global Health Governance

If there is one thing I learned during yesterday’s and today’s sessions, it’s that Global Health Governance leads us to more questions than answers at this moment. Personally I, like many others, would like to see health on top of the global national and international agenda. But what can we do to achieve this? And more important: how can we ensure global public goods?

The world has changed immensely over the past few years, going from a multipolar to a multi-stakeholder reality in which new emerging economies claim their place more clearly than ever. Because of these changes there seems to be no clear mandate at this moment, no accountability. How can we create multilateralism with accountability? And who do we need to keep accountable for what?

Most, if not all, panelists agreed that in order to move forward we need to work together: together with other sectors, together with other departments, together with other countries,…, together in every sense of the word. As health is not a stand-alone issue that stops or begins at a border we need to acknowledge and manage our interdependence, we need to act together to defeat the current challenges coming our way and to integrate the social, environmental, political and economical determinants of health. This also includes moving away from development aid models towards new models diplomacy and of partnerships in which all actors have knowledge, interests and experience to share with one another. We can all learn from each other.

As we are in Gastein for the European Health Forum other important questions to be raised are: What can Europe do for Global Health. What role can the European Union play? A good starting point to answer some of these questions can be found in the Council Conclusions on Global Health of 2010. For now I will limit myself to give you a short overview of what the panelists shared with us.

Mr Guyader explained that the European External Affairs Service have a key role to play in a coherent foreign health policy. The European Union’s interests in Health on the international agenda are multiple. They are not only based on political interests like security and EU’s role as global actor, but also on its values like Human Rights. And let’s not forget the juridical, economic and social interests. When asked what the European Union could do to promote Global Health Mr. Srinath of India answered that the EU could create platforms where health issues like ‘How to create the right conditions for a healthy populations’ could be discussed together. Mrs. Jakab gave the example of the six roadmaps for action WHO and the European Commission are developing. Many other examples were given, but I’m sure you will read all about them in the report of the session.

The conclusion was that the European Union is working on its role in Global Health. The union is committed to collaborate with other institutions, agencies, countries, etc and many steps have been taken the past few years. Of course this does not mean there is no more room for improvement. On the contrary Europe needs a lot more advocates for Global Health and we might need to step up our pace not to lose track.

All in all still a lot of questions to be answered and a lot of food for thought. To add some of the latter I would like to end this blog with some quotes that keep buzzing in my head:

  • “Policy does not equal Politics.” -> Global Health is not just about policy, it is also very much about politics.
  • “Cutting back on Public Health is a false economy”
  • “We need to define the key global goods in ‘coproduction’, not in silos.”

Langerock Stephanie

F4: Health in 2050

In 2050 I will hopefully be celebrating my 70th birthday surrounded by family, friends and colleagues. But in what society will my birthday party take place? What will be the health challenges in 2050? What technology will be in place? Will systems be resilient and adaptable for the changes that we need? Have we been able to respond to the challenges and created and adaptive, resilient healthcare system? What about all the issues that have been discussed during the European Health Forum Gastein 2012: demography; financing; innovation; inequalities; demand for increasing productivity? On top of that we have the climate change and other environmental challenges that have to be met otherwise all health issues will be irrelevant. So: when you put all these challenges together it all seems quite daunting…

It is of course extremely difficult to make assumptions about the future, however the panel presented a mix of looking into the crystal ball and some of the more certain things that are about to happen, for example demographic projections and climate change scenarios.

The researchers in the panel stressed, surprisingly, the need for more research. This was met by comments that even though we need more knowledge we should start to act on the knowledge that is already there and that there is a need for better and more efficient implementations of innovation, that could be technological as well as organizational.

There was also a clear divide between the people who argued that the great challenges will be met by individual, tailor-made solutions and those who argued for a more community- based approach. Another hot topic was the integrity issues related to ICT in healthcare, where the divide seemed to be between the older versus the younger members of the panel.

“Breaking down the silos” might have been the most common expression during this session. I think we all can agree to that but how do we make it happened?

There were some key quotes that I will take with me:
“Why are we so reluctant to get rid of hospitals: we don’t live in them so why do we research in them?”
“ICT has to support our values, it can’t be the other way around.”
“The future is already here its not just evenly distributed “

In his final remark Mr Robert Madelin challenged the Young Gastein-network to come back next year and put together a workshop on a similar topic.

So when I look into my own crystal ball: will I be a fat, depressed and overheated 70-year old with several chronic conditions living in a society with large inequalities in health? Hopefully not so let’s all go home, be brave and continue the transition to a healthier society and a more sustainable healthcare system!

Maria Söderlund


W11: Public-Private Partnerships

Moderator: H. Brand, new President of EHFG
S. Wright, Executive Director, ECHAA
G. del Bufalo, Senior Investment Officer, CASSA DEPOSITI E PRESTITI S.p.A. / INFRASTRUTTURE S.p.A.
J. Barlow, Professor of Technology & Innovation Management, Imperial College Business School
A. Durán, Director, Técnica de Salud

The session Public-Private Partnership (PPP) provided us with a great summary of all the very interesting sessions we have heard so far. A main topic was the financial crisis, which clearly affects every economy and therefore has a great impact on health and the way it is financed.  Talking about dire financial straits, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) could be a solution or at least a possibility to overcome the shortage of money.

PPPs are partnerships between the private and public sector, in which the private sector finances projects of the public sector. A. Durán mentioned the Rhön Clinics and the Schön Clinics in Germany as very good examples of PPPs. These private clinics have a high standard of medical quality, great focus on patients and are two of the few hospitals operating with black numbers.

Even though PPPs could be a great possibility of connecting the private and public sector we should make sure that if a partnership ultimately not successful, the public sector is not the only one who has to bail them out and be responsible for the whole project. This being the case, the private sector should be invited to sessions like this in order to increase focus on the private sector and get them more involved.

The lively discussion towards the end was a great way to conclude the session and the entire EHFG. This provided an interesting outlook for the following EHFG next year in Bad Hofgastein.

In conclusion, it could be said that the EHFG was a great opportunity to spread new ideas and approaches and was an enriching experience for every participant. The EHFG showed clearly that we can all learn from the current crisis and view it as an opportunity rather than merely a concern.

Verna Kolb

Closing Plenary

To tell the truth I had been warned by other more experienced young gasteiners that the closing plenary was not the most exciting session of the forum. Due to this my expectations were not the highest. With this background I was positively surprised. To summarize what was said the message was that to manage to build a sustainable health care system more focus must be shed on prevention of diseases. As the austrian minister of health Mr Stöger said this is already known and the challenge now is to implement what has been discussed and reported in congresses and reports. He also emphasized that investments in health sis investments in the entire economy. This is something that commissioner Dalli also raised as he mentioned that one tenth of all europeans are working in areas related to health and social care and that the health sector is one of most cost effective sectors to make investments in. The close relationship between health, wealth and health system were a cornerstone in the very interesting presentation by Phillipa Mladovsky from the European Observatory on Health System and politics. She showed interesting data on the relationship between suicide rates and unemployment rates and how a well developed social security system dramatically decreased the influence of unemployment rates on suicide rates. She could also  show that the current economic situation in Greece and Spain increased the prevalence of mental disorders and that a larger proportion of these countries had avoided going to a health practitioner even though they needed.

After this followed a discussion that raised gigantic question such as how the financial crisis should be averted. One of the most interesting questions were who should be responsible for health impact assessment of countries who at the moment are undergoing harsh economic demands from the Troika.

I think it was an interesting session with some of the top names in european health policy making. I consider it an honor to be able to attend it.

Daniel Mattisson