Health Highlights

News from EuroHealthNet - December 2016

Latest EuroHealthNet Online Magazine published

EuroHealthNet has published the 8th edition of its bi-annual online magazine, where one can find articles on the topics of health equity, public health, health promotion and promotion. The articles in this edition show some examples of EuroHealthNet member and partner agencies working in an innovative way to implement health interventions with new actors. It includes inspiring stories from across Europe and ideas about how health promotion organisations can further develop their working practices.

To read our online magazine, please click here.

INHERIT leaders plan for a busy 2017

The INHERIT Steering Group, bringing together all INHERIT project partners (18 organisations spanning 12 European countries, working in the field of public health, environment, behavioural sciences, technology) met at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in Bilthoven, Utrecht, to discuss progress made in the first year of the project and to plan upcoming work.

The focus of INHERIT in 2016 was on bringing together, in a baseline review, existing knowledge on the key environmental factors affecting health and health inequalities, and on examining the role of lifestyles and behaviour in relation to these factors. The focus was also on the development of a common analytical framework to help clarify the relationships between these different themes and to facilitate the consortium’s future work. Good progress has also been made on identifying promising practices (policies/interventions/innovations or products) that encourage people to modify their lifestyles and behaviours and achieve the ‘triple-win’ of improving the environment, health and health equity. The outcomes of INHERIT’s first year of work will be publicly available in early 2017.

For more information, see: www.inherit.eu

EuroHealthNet leads on inequalities at policy forum

EuroHealthNet attended the EU Health Policy Platform, a collaborative initiative to ease the communication between the Commission services and health stakeholders. At the event Ingrid Stegeman presented a draft statement on health inequalities which was well-received and endorsed by many organisations. Three other statements were also presented: CPME presented their draft statement on ‘Patient Safety, incl. continuing Professional Development and Quality Care’; ASPHER presenter their statement on ‘Public Health Workforce Development and Professionalization’, and MHE and EUFAMI presented their statement on ‘Mental Health’.

Members of the Platform will decide on which statements they would like to support. Throughout the debates continuous attention was made to the paradigm shift from curative health systems to health promoting systems and the sustainability of public health systems.

For further information about EuroHealthNet’s draft statement on health inequalities, please contact Ingrid Stegeman (i.stegeman@eurohealthnet.eu).

For further information about this event, please contact Cathrine Festersen (c.festersen@eurohealthnet.eu).

Great learning from Slovenia reported

The National Institute of Public Health in Slovenia (NIJZ) and EuroHealthNet organised a study visit in 2016 to help stakeholders from across Europe learn more about the healthy and active aging initiatives being undertaken across Slovenia, and how it is facing the challenge of maintaining a healthy and active ageing population. The visit was an opportunity to understand and exchange information on how to work across sectors. Current societal challenges, like migration and demographic change, were addressed and discussed with Slovenian economic and social experts. EuroHealthNet policy director Clive Needle recommended take up of innovative approaches that had been identified:

There is excellent concrete learning for policy and practice for most states, regions and communities from these actions, which were initiated with EU and EuroHealthNet support. They show how governments, experts and communities on the ground can tackle common problems and build partnerships. It is a good practical example of what the World Health Organisation is trying to promote for intersectoral action. I highly commend this learning to policymakers and practitioners everywhere.”

To access the study visit report, please click here.

For further information about this study visit, please contact Cristina Chiotan (c.chiotan@eurohealthnet.eu).

Lisbon showcase for CHRODIS actions

The European Joint Action on Chronic Diseases (JA-CHRODIS) Work Package on Health Promotion / Disease Prevention (WP5) held its last partners’ meeting in Lisbon. It was an occasion for all partners to review the outcomes of their participation and their work. All agreed that study visits had been very beneficial to understand how good practices worked concretely rather than on paper. Study visits had also helped them make personal contacts, which could help in future in case of problems or when exchanging advice.

Partners also agreed that transferring a practice from one country to another was beneficial in terms of efficiency (no re-inventing the wheel) and savings (no waste of resources). They agreed that key elements were needed in a transfer process. These included a bottom –up approach including target populations, though support at higher level was needed too; inter-sectorial collaboration between different institutions (e.g. schools, sports clubs, hospitals) but also between various levels (regional, local, municipal); qualified and highly committed human resources (among others “champions” who networked and engaged people in the project); detailed documentation, monitoring & evaluation; and last but not least, long-term engagement with stable funding. Finally, partners had learnt a lot from other countries, but the activities and study visits in other countries also helped them assess their own health promotion work in their own country.

For further information, please contact Anne Pierson (a.pierson@eurohealthnet.eu).

Health4LGBTI project partners meet in Verona

The Health4LGBTI pilot project team, of which EuroHealthNet is partner, gathered in Verona to provide an overview of the main results to date and to discuss next steps for the development of the training modules in consideration of the findings. The project reviewed existing literature to learn more about the health inequalities experienced by LGBTI people and the barriers they face when accessing healthcare, with an additional focus on vulnerable intersections. Barriers encountered by healthcare professionals when providing healthcare to LGBTI people were also investigated.

Building on this work, possible formats and content of the training modules for healthcare professionals were also discussed. The training will be developed and piloted in the next months, and aims to provide healthcare professionals with tools and skills to overcome these barriers and contribute to the reduction of health inequalities experienced by LGBTI people.

Health4LGBTI is an EU funded pilot project aimed at reducing health inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people.

To learn more about the project, please click here or contact Clotilde Cattaneo (c.cattaneo@eurohealthnet.eu).

Alcohol and inequalities links explored

The Ministry of Health in Slovenia hosted the 7th European Alcohol Policy in Ljubljana, which was co-organised by Eurocare, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance. The general topic was “Alcohol Policy for Sustainable Development” and the conference focused on two main issues: health inequalities and innovative approaches to implement alcohol policy.

While the conference was to some extent ‘preaching to the converted’, with the alcohol industry represented only minimally, listening to Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s evidence and calls to address the very conditions that have made people sick in the first place is always inspiring. David McDaid (LSE) and representatives of the UK Institute of Alcohol Studies and the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems underlined as well the somewhat paradoxical relationship between alcohol consumption and health inequalities.

To read our article about the Alcohol Harm Paradox, available in EuroHealthNet’s 8th online magazine, please click here.

For further information about the conference, please click here or contact Anna Gallinat (a.gallinat@eurohealthnet.eu).

Paris showcase for joined up wellbeing actions

EuroHealthNet attended the WHO ‘Working together for better health and well-being’ conference, which took place in Paris (France). The conference brought together health, education and social sectors in active discussions on the role of partnerships and intersectoral work to address common challenges for health and well-being. With a strong focus on children and adolescents, the conference highlighted the role of social protection, the importance and future action for schools promoting health, the need for investing in workforce and the importance of implementing a health-in-all policies, whole-of-government approaches.

The conference was hosted by France, which demonstrated an important collaboration between the Ministry of Social Affairs & Health and the Ministry of Education. Other countries, regions and UN agencies presented the initiatives they are taking, including EuroHealthNet partners in Ireland, Scotland, Slovenia and Wales. Finland also presented on progress strengthening employment and health sectors, which will be featured during the EuroHealthNet annual conference in Helsinki in June 2017.

The conference integrated work within the context of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. EuroHealthNet Policy Director Clive Needle acted as moderator and highlighted the importance of integrated policies and coordinated action, mentioning the role of the potential European Pillar of Social Rights and the EU semester. A helpful voluntary Conference Declaration was agreed by participating states, as an important basis for WHO and UN agencies to make progress on taking concepts forward through an organised collaborative platform. Further steps will be reported to the WHO Regional Committee in 2017.

Clive Needle urged policymakers and practitioners in health, social, education and economic fields to use outcomes to work more closely together: “This interesting event showed what can be done, with many concrete examples and much evidence”. EuroHealthNet members have worked hard between these sectors for many years, just as we have at EU levels. We all have much to contribute and learn from others by being involved.”

For further information, extensive background documents and working papers are available here or contact Cristina Chiotan (c.chiotan@eurohealthnet.eu) or Clive Needle via c.needle@eurohealthnet.eu.

EuroHealthNet makes the health promotion case to MEPs

The European Parliament organised an open public workshop on ‘Health Promotion and Primary Prevention’ for its Environment & Health Committee’s Health Working Group. EuroHealthNet Policy Director Clive Needle made the opening comments, in which he presented EuroHealthNet work including the EU Joint Action CHRODIS towards tackling the burden of chronic diseases. Clive strongly recommended that parliamentarians support the call to increase capacities for health promotion and tackling diseases in EU member states, through transformation of sustainable health systems plus intersectoral approaches. EuroHealthNet also underlined the role health promotion can play in addressing highly topical EU policy challenges, from economic needs, environments and inequalities, through empowering citizens rather than blaming individuals.

The majority of panellists called for actions to empower and motivate people to live healthy lives. Additionally, the benefits of good practices were also mentioned. Artur Furtado of the European Commission DG SANTE also participated and raised the intergenerational implications on health, especially in children. This topic is well documented in the DRIVERS project report by EuroHealthNet.

For further information, please contact Cathrine Festersen (c.festersen@eurohealthnet.eu).

“Digital Transformation Blueprint” launched

The Second European Summit on Digital Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing was held in Brussels, during which a “Blueprint on the Digital Transformation” of health and care was presented. The summit is part of the European Innovation Platform on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA) (of which EuroHealthNet is part), which brings together diverse stakeholders to act on adherence to medical plans, falls prevention, frailty and functional decline, integrated care systems, ICT solutions for independent living, and age-friendly environments.

Last year, EU digital Commissioner Oettinger set out plans for a ‘blue print’, a shared vision on how innovation enabled by a Digital Single Market can transform Europe's ageing society in the 21st Century and contribute to the European “Silver Economy”. Stakeholders subsequently provided evidence of how their sectors are being influenced and where opportunities lie. A draft of the document is available and is currently being finalised.

Whilst the topic of the conference was digital innovation, and many new devices and initiatives were presented, the conference discussed innovation in a broader sense. It was noted that innovation was needed not only in technology, but also in health and social care systems and ways of working. A better connection between service providers and users was stressed as an important component of future success. Speakers and participants also highlighted the need of a ‘top down, bottom up partnership approach’ where user and service provider experience shared a platform with advice and objectives from governmental organisations.

For further information about this event, please contact Alexandra Latham (a.latham@eurohealthnet.eu).

‘What about our kids?’ event

EuroHealthNet attended the event “‘What about our kids: Improve the AVMSD Directive”, organised by the European Parliament. Hosted by MEP Daciana Octavia Sarbu, the event gathered experts from a wide range of backgrounds to discuss the effects of advertising on children’s behaviours. The event took place as a reaction to a ‘soft’ text in the new proposed Directive. The revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive offers a once in a decade opportunity to protect children from commercial communications on alcohol and unhealthy foods.

The meeting presented the child exposure to commercial communications for unhealthy food and alcohol from different TV and internet sources. Tools for restricting tools to reduce child exposure and the effectiveness of self-regulatory schemes were addressed.

EuroHealthNet raised the issue of inequalities in obesity rates between and within Member States: if the new Directive will include only the minimum requirements then some states will do more than others which could lead to increased inequalities. We should invest more in health promotion and education programmes, target the most vulnerable and highlight the health risks to young people and its effects on social behaviour (e.g. drinking and driving, alcohol and violence).

For further information, please contact Cristina Chiotan (c.chiotan@eurohealthnet.eu).

How civil society can help to beat “chronic diseases”

EuroHealthNet attended the conference “The European Response to Chronic Diseases – the Role of Civil Society”. The meeting aimed both to discuss the role of civil society in Europe, and to facilitate the sharing of experiences among regional and national civil society organisations in the field of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The event highlighted strengths, challenges, opportunities, but also threats faced by NCD civil society in the WHO European Region, such as the lack of a common NCD civil society agenda and the difficulties in streamlining efforts in a diverse and fragmented regions. Speakers mainly included representatives from NGOs, but also policy makers and representatives of International institutions.

For more information about the outcomes of the conference, please click here or contact Clotilde Cattaneo (c.cattaneo@eurohealthnet.eu).

WHO involves cities for healthy environments

The Utrecht Region (Netherlands) hosted the WHO Stakeholder Consultation ‘Environment and Health for European Cities in the 21st century: making a difference’, which EuroHealthNet attended.  The consultation formed part of the preparatory process for the Sixth WHO Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health planned for June 2017, which specifically focuses on the city level. Member States representatitives, International Organizations and representatives of Cities and Local Authorities present at the consultation were asked to propose commitments, initiatives and actions that could be submitted for consideration by the negotiaters of the Declaration of the  Conference.

The consultation was chaired by RIVM, a member of EuroHealthNet and involved in the Horizon2020 project INHERIT. As well as presentations on the United Nations (Habitat III) “New Urban Agenda” recently adopted, the event included thematic working group discussions on key priority areas: air pollution and climate change, active transport, inequalities and green spaces. Besides the consultation, there were side events organised by the Utrecht Region, including a ‘health market place’ at the venue featuring the INHERIT project.

For further information, please contact Masja Schmidt (assistant-rk@eurohealthnet.eu).

Social insurers think about an EU Rights Pillar

EuroHealthNet attended the European Social Insurance Platform (ESIP) 20th Anniversary conference where the social security perspective was discussed in relation to the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The key note speech by Allan Larsson, special adviser to EC President Juncker on the potential EU Pillar of Social Rights, urged countries to take inequalities into account. Furthermore, Mr. Larsson underlined his comprehension of the current status of the EU where there is no political support for ‘More Europe’ and therefore instead calls for a bottom up approach, where citizens are first.

A panel discussed the difference between the Social Pillar and the Open Method of Coordination, social obligations under the Social Pillar, whether activation could be considered a social right, the likelihood of having a minimum income scheme and the Pillar’s conflict with the EU’s macroeconomic agenda. 

For further information, please contact Cathrine Festersen (c.festersen@eurohealthnet.eu).

Employment task group hears the health view

EuroHealthNet attended a meeting in the EU Task Force for Employment concerning the potential EU Pillar of Social Rights in Brussels. In this meeting EuroHealthNet presented its priorities to each of the members of the Task Force, which focusses on measures for improving employment conditions across the EU. The subsequent discussion showed a clear agreement on the need to highlight poverty, social exclusion, social determinants of health, targeted labour market integration and proportionate universalism in the access to social security and health. Likewise, there was consensus regarding the need for the involvement of local and regional levels in the design, implementation and evaluation of social policies.

For further information, please contact Claudia Marinetti (c.marinetti@eurohealthnet.eu) or Cathrine Festersen (c.festersen@eurohealthnet.eu).

Maltese Presidency sets out priorities for 2017

EuroHealthNet attended a briefing on Malta’s Presidency priorities for health hosted by European Policy Centre (EPC) in collaboration with Coalition for Health, Ethics & Society (CHES). At the event, the Maltese attaché for Health and Consumer Protection presented the overall objective and policy priorities in health, namely:

  • to combat Non-Communicable Diseases by special attention to childhood obesity ;
  • to foster structured co-operation between health systems, to tackle HIV and use data for health.

The participants showed special interest in the topic of childhood obesity and which tools are expected to be taken in use. EuroHealthNet also raised a question as to the attention paid to the social determinants to health – the answered provided was that they will not be directly considered.

For further information, please contact Cathrine Festersen (c.festersen@eurohealthnet.eu).

Policy makers debate UN Sustainable Development Goals

EuroHealthNet attended the EPC (European Policy Centre (EPC) debate on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This event’s panel featured members of EC Vice-President Timmerman’s cabinet, the United Nations, chemical industry and poverty and injustice activist groups. Members of the audience called for fairer mapping exercises where the negative impact on SDGs in EU law was also considered, as well as stressing the need to consider the regions and local levels in the implementation of SDGs.

In the discussion, the need for policy coherence on the SDGs was called for as well as breaking down the silos of sectors to properly address the SDGs. Likewise, it was considered urgent to acknowledge the three dimensions of sustainability – social, economic, and environmental. The discussions also highlighted increasing social inequalities, the need for political drive and willingness in order to succeed with the SDGs, and the need to draw attention to sustainable financing (including taxation).

For further information, please contact Cathrine Festersen (c.festersen@eurohealthnet.eu).

What the “World of Work” entails now

The Erasmus+ project ‘WOW’ (World of Work) had its final conference in the premises of the European Parliament (Brussels). Involving partners from Denmark, Serbia, Italy and Ireland plus the SOLIDAR umbrella group of EU organisations, the WOW project targeted young people who are voluntarily active in youth work, youth workers, and young people who are out of work or unskilled or both. Areas of work included:

  • Promotion of participation in civic life generally,  and in the labour market in particular;
  • Increase of youth’s sense of social inclusion and solidarity;
  • Empower individuals and groups towards enhanced employability and youth work;
  • Promotion of mobility and cooperation between youth from the partner countries;
  • Raise awareness of EU Citizenship through peer-to-peer learning;
  • Improve the capacity of involved organisations.

The report containing the recommendations of the WOW project can be downloaded here.

For further information, please contact Ana Oliveira (a.oliveira@eurohealthnet.eu).