All Policies for a Healthy Europe (F2)

Going beyond the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Today, participants of Forum 2 on “All Policies for a Healthy Europe” at the European Health Forum Gastein had the unique opportunity not only to witness the kick-off of a notable agenda setting initiative, but also to actively contribute to shaping Europe’s health strategy and discuss our future vision of a healthy Europe.

Robert Madelin, chairman of Fipra International, facilitated the session in a highly energetic manner. He walked us through a creative multi-stakeholder co-creation for healthy societies, healthy environments and healthy systems and guided the discussion on how policies from other sectors can support health. Before the enthusiastic audience could break out in brainstorming sessions organized as a World Café, all panelists shared their longstanding inter-sectoral and meaningful experience by bringing some meat to the common buzzwords.

Caption: The expert panel discussing about how to make Europe healthier through intersectoral action and multi-stakeholder engagement.

As a starter, Erika Widegren, CEO from Re-Imagine Europa, called for a better infrastructure, which she regards as crucial to make more people change their health-related lifestyles. She further advocated for a practical evidence-based approach on a broader scale to look at ‘what works in single communities’ and ‘how to build up on that’. That’s why she considers initiatives that go beyond the GDP and embrace meta-structures accompanied by metrics as key in this debate.

From a governance perspective, Caroline Costongs, director of EuroHealthNet, argued that thanks to the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Semester has become more “social” and pleads its evolution into an economic tool for policy cooperation between EU Member States. To her, it was of utmost importance that the existing EU-driven tools and processes are being better understood and used by the public health field to co-create health and put wellbeing at the core. This reasoning follows the ‘thinking big’ mantra of this years’ European Health Forum Gastein. She stressed that now, prior to the elections, is the time to ensure that we as the public health sector are involved in the current debate with investors and donors for achieving better health. Even though Martin Seychell (Deputy Director General at DG Santé) argued in the opening plenary earlier today that “all [other sectors] understand importance of health”, Caroline still feels that the challenge is to make financing people health literate by showing them how cost-effective our new health programme will be. It became obvious that this dilemma might become another common theme within the next conference days.

In her role as CEO of the NHS Digital Academy, Rachel Dunscombe made the case for jobs, education and housing to be the biggest interventions for improving health where ‘data liquidity’ would help people in their lifestyle choices. She flagged a very common problem we are facing in the EU that refers to access to and linkage of individual level data. So, we can only start thinking of having personalized interventions once a genuine open standards and open data policy is put into practice. However, the citizens’ consent is a necessary step in achieving this and we also need to be very clear about HOW the data is being used. She gave an illustrative example for mobilising the ‘indoor generation’ to showcase how data can be used for health promotion: the so-called ‘carrot incentives’ that measure app users’ outdoor activity and offer healthy rewards. In addition, she spoke about meeting the challenge of engaging the ‘bedroom generation’ and imagines a future where public health professionals collaborate with Youtubers to get health messages across.

Zoltán Massay-Kossubek, policy manager from the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA EU), offered us two very catchy activities worth to be taken up in the new EU’s health strategy. He first argued for incorporating dedicated health chapters linked to the SDGs framework in trade documents at EU level, an area where the EU has a rather exclusive competence. Secondly, and more interestingly, he proposed the set-up of a “doing less task force” for the upcoming European Parliament elections in 2019. He suggested that the EU should identify areas where we can do less by adopting a new approach on how to do things differently. Zoltán also called for a European solution in tackling air pollution, which is another relevant public health issue that doesn’t recognize borders and struggles about a political agenda.

The employer perspective was represented by Zeger Vercoutern, Vice President, Government Affairs & Policy, Johnson & Johnson, who is convinced that a healthy workforce is also a key driver for progressive societies and that the workplace is a crucial contributor to that. To say it with Robert Madelin’ words “companies and their leaders can be evangelists across sectors” to secure occupational health.

The intense discussions from the World Café, giving the audience around 30 minutes to prepare their ideas on intersectoral actions and policies to be implemented at EU-level, resulted in top 3 policy recommendations for healthy societies, healthy environments and health systems that might find their way into the next EU health programme.

Caption: Suggestions for intersectoral actions developed during the World Café discussions

Source: click here

While issues covering the workplace, food chain, school, transportation, energy, air pollution and data made it to the top (see photo), topics such as food labelling, alcohol consumption, noise pollution and new primary care models will also require careful consideration.

In closing this lively debate, R Madelin wrapped up by stressing that knowledge translation is really important and that channels where this shall happen have to be multiplied.

What’s next?

If you got curious about how the impact of this session will look like, come to Brussels on 22 November 2018 where the initiative will be officially launched at the European Parliament. You can also follow the activities on Twitter @EuropeHealthy.


This Blog was written by the Young Gasteiner Nataša Peri?

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