This week, the EuroHealthNet Partnership brought together over 300 experts and senior officials from national and regional public health bodies, professionals and policy makers at its hybrid Annual Seminar in Oslo. Hosted by the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the Partnership discussed policy, research and practice across sectors and settings for preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mitigating the exponential threats that climate change poses to public health.
"Climate change will have a major impact on public health work in the future. The connection between climate and health is becoming increasingly clear, and has become an integrated part of Norwegian public health policy, both in terms of measures to help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, climate change adaption and the transition to a climate resilient society."
Dr. Bjørn Guldvog
Director General of the Norwegian Directorate of Health
At its Annual General Council, EuroHealthNet delegates reiterated concerns that prioritisation and effective action on health equity remains slow, limited and fragmented. Europe is not on track to successfully prevent NCDs and protect health from climate change. Root causes can be found in the way our societies and economies are designed. This means that ambitious targets will need to be set to address socioeconomic and commercial determinants that underlie these rising health crises.
EuroHealthNet confirms that the future of health lies with effective health promotion and prevention of diseases. Systems-thinking and dedicated investments in capacity building to embrace the complexity of transforming systems into health promoting systems within planetary boundaries are urgently needed. Promoting mental wellbeing and developing caring communities and services which link people and professionals, must be central to it.
"Our 2022-2023 Annual Report, showcases EuroHealthNet’s work advocating for systemic approaches and building multidisciplinary skills to address concurrent crises, based on the Wellbeing Economy. EuroHealthNet commits to mobilise the collective knowledge, skills and experience of its member agencies to help prioritise and monitor targets that are urgent, evidence-based and forward-looking."
Prof. Dr. Martin Dietrich
President of EuroHealthNet
Target-setting as a tool to mobilise political leaders for health equity priorities, measures, and investments
EuroHealthNet’s Annual Seminar and General Council Meeting brought forward examples what needs to be done. As we continue shaping our collective priorities for public health in Europe, the upcoming EU institutional renewal in 2024 will offer new agenda setting opportunities. The expertise gathered highlighted actions that enable:
- An EU-wide targeted and time-bound framework for action on the prevention of NCDs, with a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism behind.
- Leveraging European tools for public health, social and environmental justice, central to targets, budgets, EU funds and decisions that affect health.
- The transformation to a Wellbeing Economy that serves people and planet, where policy makers work in integrated ways across sectors, from local to global.
- Increased efforts to involve citizens and civil society in a more meaningful way in the design and implementation of EU policy.
Prioritising systems-thinking for promoting health and preventing diseases must be put where it belongs - at the beating heart of European policies and politics.