‘Health is a political choice’ – Young Gasteiners Health Diplomacy Workshop 2017

Health Diplomacy can be defined in many ways, but essentially it is about bringing together a range of disciplines, from public health to international relations, and to focus on the negotiation process that shapes and defines the global policy environment for health.

With this, there has become a need to build capacity for global health diplomacy, by training public health professionals and diplomats respectively in this area.

As such, 1st to 2nd June 2017, 16 Young Gasteiners with diverse range of professional backgrounds came together in Copenhagen to participate in a Health Diplomacy workshop. This workshop was made possible by funding from the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The objectives were to foster an understanding of global health and its interconnectedness with foreign policy, practice negotiation skills, network with both young and senior (public) health professionals from across Europe.

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Introducing the newest intern!

My name is Max Schravendeel and I am a Dutch student spending ten weeks in Salzburg for an internship at the EHFG. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Medical Imaging and Radiotherapy and am now pursuing a master’s degree in Governance and Leadership in European Public Health at the Maastricht University. I am excited to work at the EHFG because of the emphasis on Europe and contemporary challenges in public health. Besides this internship and thesis work, I will be spending my time in Salzburg exploring the neighborhood as I love travelling in Europe. Austria will be the fifth European country I live in and I have just used the opportunity to visit my 25th European country; Slovakia!

So far, the experience in Salzburg has been a great one. Coming from one of the flattest countries in the world I tend to get excited by the smallest of hills; it remains surreal to see mountains touching the clouds as I look out my office window. Working at the EHFG has so far only added to the experience. The team has been very welcoming and the atmosphere very friendly. Not to mention I got to explore the country on my second day when I was taken to the Gastein Valley as an introduction to the conference location. I even have my own office. Well, I have to share it with Maximillian; but I’ll still be calling it Max’s office.

Lunch break in Bad Hofgastein…                  Office (balcony) view…

Lights, Camera, Action! On learning how to moderate effectively and other stories

“Tell me something. You are about to facilitate an important conference session and you are allowed to bring one item with you on stage. Which one do you pick?”

  1. Your confidence, who needs anything else?
  2. A clipboard with your notes (You’ve mapped out the seating chart of the room with GPS satellite precision)
  3. Your phone, to check the live-twitter feed
  4. A buzzer, to (cut people off) keep time
  5. Sunglasses, to exit stage left incognito just in case

This spring, I was fortunate to be invited by EHFG to attend with seven other European health experts, a 1.5-day workshop from LACS Training on conference facilitation at the Microsoft Innovation Center in Brussels.

David Rose, professional public speaker, moderator and communications consultant, led us through the workshop and shared some of the ‘tricks of his trade’.  

During our practice. Learning from the best. Can you spot the video camera?

On the morning of our first day, we got straight down to business. Continue reading

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