Interview with Bert Aben

Bert Aben, GAMIAN-Europe (Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks-Europe), NL

Bert Aben – BA, Viktorija Andreikenaite – VA, Ondrej Fiala – OF

Bert Aben


OF: There are many different approaches to treat and diagnose mental diseases, for example, psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy. What is, from your point of view, the position of the patient organization? How can they help? Why are they important?

BA: The patient organization must appeal to all, who are involved in treatment: government, doctors, hospitals, also employers, and say what is the best for treatment. We also can say “Give power to the organization”, that’s another approach. I personally prefer to stay in an advisory position, because I’m not a part of the hospital, I want to be an independent advisor. Continue reading

Interview with John F. Ryan

John F. Ryan, Acting Director of Public Health, DG SANTE, European Commission


YG: Do you think that policy makers have enough awareness of the International Health Regulation (IHR) and how it can be used? If not, how can this be raised?

JR: I think awareness of the IHR and its uses are not yet optimal. The key way to improve this is to embed the IHR in domestic legislation. In this way, as with Directives at European level, policy makers are increasingly aware of content and uses when it is being transposed to national law. In principle, the IHR is directly applicable in the same way as a Regulation is at EU level, but in practice the essential elements of IHR depend on national implementation, and national policy makers and health ministries are crucial to this. Policy makers and health ministries are the experts on their national realities, which is why their cooperation with international organisations is so vital. Continue reading

Interview with Marta Ballester

Marta Ballester, Project Coordinator, Avedis Donabedian Research Institute, University of Barcelona, Spain – representing the EMPATHiE consortium


Marta Ballester, MSc, is a researcher and project manager in Avedis Donabedian Research Institute. Her main areas of interest cover patient empowerment, self-management and patient participation. At a European level she recently coordinated the first DG SANTE tender in patient empowerment: EMPATHiE (Empowering Patients in the Management of Chronic Diseases. Her current research at the Avedis Donabedian Research Institute is focused on the promotion of self-care in Europe, participating in PISCE (Pilot project on the promotion of self-care systems in the European Union), patient participation mechanisms in health policy and differences of access to treatment across Europe. Continue reading

Interview with Ketevan Glonti

Interview with Ketevan Glonti, Research Fellow, Department of Health Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Ketevan Glonti – KG, Viktorija Andreikenaite – VA, Kathrin Hofer – KH, Ondrej Fiala  – OF

VA: How can Google Street View contribute to promote healthy living environments on policy level, regional and local/community level? 

KG: Well, in our study we’ve been using Google Street View to look at the neighbourhood level. By measuring and characterizing the environment, we can capture important issues that are affecting people health in their neighbourhood. And we can tackle them on a local level, but as Harry (Harry Rutter) was saying, you can see certain patterns and certain differences between areas so we can tackle things also not only at the local or regional level, but also at the national level, eventually. Continue reading

Interview with Ananda Plate

Ananda Plate, Operations Manager, Myeloma Patients Europe (Belgium)


After the 18th European Health Forum Gastein, I caught up with Ananda Plate from Myeloma Patients Europe. Ms. Plate had contributed to the 2 October workshop on Equity and Solidarity in EU Healthcare Systems, with a focus on how to improve patient access to innovative cancer care in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

What do Equity and Solidarity mean in terms of patient access to innovation?

‘Equity and solidarity’ are about using our limited resources as best we can, to ensure that no patient is left behind. Too often, discussions about access to innovative treatments become bogged down in a debate about pricing. As important as pricing is, there are other important dimensions. Up to 85% of clinical research required for innovative drugs is not strictly speaking necessary, and this contributes to the long delays – 10 years, on average – between drugs being developed and actually becoming available to the patient. This is unacceptable. There are many things that could be done to make research more efficient, for example, by addressing the questions which are relevant to patients and clinicians from the very beginning, by producing solid evidence base to be successful at marketing authorization/reimbursement stage, by publishing also negative results, etc. Continue reading