Hurdling in Brussels – 3rd YFG Institutional Workshop at EPHA

Brussels 23rd February 2017
Ah it’s good to be back with these health care professionals, these passionate health enthusiasts. You know that you’re surrounded by Young Gasteiners just by the time it takes until all questions can be asked, as everybody is engaged in the discussion at hand. It’s good to be back in their company.

Let us tell you why we were at the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA). We were keen to find out more about what EPHA does and, more importantly, how they do it. Nina Renshaw, EPHA’s Secretary General, introduced the Alliance, its members and campaigns. She opened the floor to the Young Gasteiners around the table at the start, giving space for lively discussions and a stream of questions throughout the workshop.

Nina explained that EPHA is an Alliance that gathers expert organizations, NGOs and other stakeholders in the public health sphere from all around the EU and gives them a voice in specific EU influenced issues in health. EPHA also advocates for transparency and accountability in health policy making on an EU scale. Through a mix of their members, EPHA establishes a balanced view in health policy and lobbies for these on an EU and national level, in Brussels and beyond.

Advocating for health in the EU has levelled up. Member States, through the European Council, are gaining more and more importance. Health-in-all policies are the new norm and Ministers of Health, Finance and Economy are key stakeholders. The era of the European Council power has arrived. And where do they make their decisions? “Behind closed doors, fed with information from unknown springs and loaded with national interests”.

Throughout the workshop, examples were given on how EPHA tries to get their voice heard during the decision making process. Yannis Natsis, for example, spoke about the ‘Universal Access and Affordable Medicines’ campaign and presented real-life examples of EPHA’s ‘fight’ for evidence-based, accountable and transparent decision and policy making in the pharmaceutical arena. He also addressed the importance of meeting with key stakeholders, such as the industry. EPHA’s policy officer for health systems, Martyna Giedrojc, spoke about a slightly different set of challenges in European, as well as national, policies. Some more established ones like the NCDs, alcohol and tobacco, but also some more recent ones like digital health and health literacy. Topics of health data management, with safety and agreed European guidelines in the spotlight, fueled an interesting debate amongst the workshop’s participants.

Advocating health in the EU seems to be a hurdle race in which the heights, distances and routes between the hurdles keep changing. With its experts, skills and members mix, EPHA seems to be a runner to bet on in the long run for a better European public health.

This blog entry was written by the Young Gasteiners Veronique Bos, Marjolein Don and Damir Ivankovic

Interview with Terje Peetso

Two Young Gasteiners were thrilled to talk about the topic of mHealth with Terje Peetso, Policy Officer at DG CONNECT in the European Commission.  Dr Terje peetsoPeetso joined the Unit Health and Wellbeing in DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology in 2011. Her main responsibilities are related to the coordination of the implementation of the eHealth Action Plan 2012 -2020 as well as the overall coordination of the policy group in the Unit.  At the European Health Forum Gastein 2016, the sessions “Reality meets reality” were organized and moderated by her. She shared her views on the topics and we started with the basics. Continue reading

Interview with Robert Buckingham, Laurent Chambaud and Andres Roman

A triple interview on the future of Public Health Training in Europe: insights from Robert Buckingham, Laurent Chambaud and Andres Romanaspher

We, young people, always found it hard to apply our knowledge into practice. What practical advices can you share with us?
RB: Trainings, trainings, trainings. And take advantage of internships to get practical expertise. In North America people pursuing an MPH must write a practicum, which is not only a thesis, but really a hands-on exercise. Use all these opportunities to go beyond the degree and to develop your practical skills.
LC: And don’t forget that you can always come back to the university. Within ASPHER we are very interested in CPD (continuos professional development), which means exactly that you leave the university and go into real life, and you come back to university later on, with your “real life” experience.
AR: I want to share my experience with you: I am a medical doctor, psychiatrist by training. I had been practicing clinical medicine for a few years when I realized I wanted to move to public health. That was not what I studied for. But through trainings and practical experiences I decided how to direct myself. Continue reading

Interview with Monika Kosinska

 Could you please provide us with a definition of a life-course approach, and an example of a policy that represents a good practice in this field? In addition, what would be an example of a policy that does not apply the life-course approach?


Monika Kosinska during the session on health literacy at the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG), September 2016 © European Health Forum Gastein

The life-course approach requires a focus on acting early, on having a healthy start, acting on time and acting together. One example on how not to apply the life-course approach is the ‘silo design’: policies that do not look at the complexity and interconnectedness between different areas are going in the wrong direction.

There are many good examples of how to apply the life-course approach in Europe, and these include national policies addressing different cohorts and different needs. They also look at different moments in life and how these moments accumulate in terms of health over time. Tailored and differentiated policies on employment, for example, are becoming more and more common in our countries. These are signs of the transition from a silo to a more comprehensive approach. Continue reading

Interview with Bernadette Kumar

Bernadette N. Kumar
Director of the Norwegian Centre for Migration and Health (NAKMI)
Interviewed by Sofia Ribeiro, Young Gasteiner

Bernadette N. Kumar was panellist in a workshop entitled “Refugee Health” at the European Health Forum Gastein.

Tell me more about what you do and what were the main achievements you had work-wise over the last year.

KumarWe work as an agency with the government, but we also work with the civil society and with health professionals. Our main aim is to generate evidence and knowledge and evidence in order to inform authorities and civil society about migration and health. In addition, we also build capacity at local level by training health professionals, and we try to disseminate the knowledge that we generate to all these levels. Continue reading