When epidemiology meets Big Data (F5)

What are the chances to epidemiological intelligence?

When thinking about the usage of data in a health context, what is your first association? Is it Google and other ‘data leeches‘ of the GAFA-kind (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon)? Linked to that, is it concerns such as data privacy, data security? A lack of standards? The fear that the internet has the memory of an elephant and never forgets the information it has received?

Let’s assume that ongoing discussions and public awareness of the potential of data analysis have improved the reputation of Big Data and that there might be other associations such as „Opportunity!“ „Prevention!“ „Efficiency!“ or „Quality“ come up to your mind when hearing the term.

With this in mind, panellists at EHFG session about epidemiology meeting Big Data showcased some excellent examples on how data might actually advance public health questions in the broader context of epidemiology. 

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EHFG Closing Plenary: Climate Change – Are we waking up too late for this Public Health Emergency?

Climate change seems to be buzzing these days and this afternoon’s plenary session, which also officially closed this year’s Gastein Forum, was another moment to properly address this issue. Just last week, leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit boosted climate action momentum, demonstrating recognition that the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated. And 65 countries committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so.

But haven’t we been pledging these goals and recognizing the problem for the past years? Aren’t we already reaping what we’ve been sewing? And what’s health got to do with it?

Andy Haines, Professor of Public Health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine joined the Plenary via Skype (giving a great do-what-you-preach example reducing greatly his personal carbon footprint) and briefly presented us the evidence of what are the ongoing effects of climate change on Health. Professor Andy Haines categorized these effects into direct effects, indirect effects and climate effects mediated through social systems.

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A European Cancer Plan: Make it disruptive! (F12)

There were many take home messages from this session at the EHFG 2019, but to just state one would be very unfair. What was apparent, however, was that the development of a European cancer plan is desired, but we probably won’t see such a document anytime soon. Peter O’Donnell kicked off the session by outlining the agenda vocalising that a European cancer plan is European and not national. He outlined the need for key performance indicators (KPIs) in this area. Nils Wilking, Associate Professor, Institute of Health Economics, Karolinska Institutet, quickly followed presenting his comparison report on “Cancer in Europe 2019 – Disease Burden, Costs and Access to Medicines”. This will be available on the Karolinska Institutet website in November 2019 for those of you who are interested. Surprisingly, Nils reported that 42 – 45% of all cancers are preventable and that all EU countries roughly spend the same percentage of their healthcare budget expenditure on cancer medicines.

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Can People Afford to Pay for Healthcare? New Evidence on Financial Protection in Europe (F7)

“No one should have to choose between healthcare and other basic needs” – this essential message was delivered by Tamás Evetovits, Head of the WHO Barcelona Office for Health Systems Strengthening, WHO Regional Office for Europe, in this afternoon workshop organised by World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe and moderated by the witty Prof. Charles Normand.

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