Interview Mr Martin Seychell

Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General, DG SANTE

SD: What political action should be taken to address the resurgence of infectious diseases as one of the most underestimated health challenges we are currently facing, e.g. compared to non-communicable diseases?

MS: Prevention and management of communicable diseases is a foundation of health security, and therefore a part of a wider approach to the EU security union. Firstly, we need to ensure that our legislation on communicable diseases is properly applied in member states, and that the International Health Regulations are fully implemented internationally. In the EU, we will reinforce our preparedness planning, with a new action plan to be discussed in the Health Security Committee. The list of communicable diseases subject to surveillance is being revised, and new case definitions are proposed. Communicable disease alert systems are being made interoperable with other systems. Vaccination is an area where considerable improvement could be made. The joint procurement initiative where 19 Member States are jointly purchasing pandemic vaccines will contribute to better preparedness across the EU. The Commission is also planning an initiative in 2018 to reinforce vaccination as a public health tool, as a result of consultations with stakeholders held at a high-level conference earlier this year. A new approach to HIV, TBC and Hepatitis will look at the common factors between these three conditions. The ECDC is also a strong tool to support surveillance and risk assessment for the European Union. Continue reading

The EHFG speakers on vaccination and vaccine registries

Interview with Prof. Rutger Jan van der Gaag, Vice President, Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME)

SD: Do you believe that the data provided by the vaccine registries could help in addressing vaccine hesitancy?

RG: Vaccine registries can help provide valuable data to get an accurate benchmark. This will be helpful in giving feedback and providing useful information on where some actions are needed in order to enhance the vaccination coverage in different countries, hopefully to above 90%. Yet, their usefulness should not be overestimated: there is a reasonable question about the required investment and the return on it. In other words – will the time and efforts needed to update vaccine registries be rewarded with a substantial increase of the vaccination rates. I am not quite sure about this, as the countries which have a sufficient to high vaccination rate will already have registries. On the other hand, those countries that have real vaccination coverage issues will be confronted with more problems and might just not have the means and people to ensure maintenance of the registries. Instead, they may want to consider doing other things to improve the vaccination rates. Rather than putting a lot of effort in administrative activities, they may need that personnel for other investments in trying to solve the problem. Continue reading

Interview with David Rose

David Rose, Gastein moderator and international-level public speaking coach has a 17-year track record of moderating and delivering training services in public speaking, facilitation skills and moderation. At this year’s forum, he kicked off the forum by holding a skills-building workshop for the Young Gasteiners, named “Secrets of Effective Moderation and Public Speaking”. The session included a toolkit of practical and ready-to-use techniques and tips on how to improve your skills.

Q: In what way would you say that improving your capacity in public speaking and moderating improves your career in health policy?

DR: Moderating and public speaking are two essential skills for any successful career, and it is definitely becoming ever more important in the field of medicine, public health, policy and across all sectors. Continue reading

Interview with John Bowis

Acting on what is known and knowing what is needed: A European perspective on health policy-making

Further to a powerful session on ‘Mainstreaming mental health policies across sectors’, we sat down with John Bowis to hear about his views and experience on health policy-making at national and European levels. John Bowis is the President of the Health First Europe multi-stakeholder alliance, a former Member of the European Parliament for London and served as the UK Health Minister between 1993 and 1996.

During the session “Mainstreaming mental health policies across sectors”, you explained that unlike Member States, the EU had the opportunity to work beyond the election terms. As an MEP, how did you see the influence of the EU recommendations into country’s health systems/policy (working beyond the next election)? Continue reading

Interview with Furio Honsell

Furio Honsell, Mayor of City of Udine, Italy
Session: Local Politics for Health (Thursday Plenary)

AA: Mr. Honsell, we saw the wonderful projects you have developed in Udine during your mandates. Could you tell us more about a project that proved to be more difficult than you expected and how you handled the situation?

FH: All successful projects need to have the full support of the civil society. I also define myself as a social broker. We consult and have open discussions with the citizens of Udine. Nobody will be unreasonable where there is dialogue. Ultimately, you might not convince them, but they will not strongly oppose it.

I am trying to close an important road now to make it fully pedestrian. I have been challenged and brought to court by various instances. It is not the community opposing it, but the small businesses. However, the business would be more prestigious by being in the city centre, in a pedestrian area.

We are still working on this and we hope to reach an agreement soon.

AA: Do you think the trust of the civil society towards the politicians can be built upon with more knowledge and access to information? Continue reading