Our place in time

We have put together a very limited selection of world events from the past years. We invite you to join us in developing the timeline further – feel free to drop us an email or tweet your suggestions! #ehfg20


Our place in History

1945 [HEALTH]: Vaccination

First vaccine for influenza becomes available in the USA, first to be used by the military, and in 1946 by the entire population.

1957 [EUROPE]: Treaty of Rome

Treaty of Rome is signed - European Economic Community. Did you know? The principle of equal pay for men and women was initially introduced in 1957 as an article within the Treaty of Rome. Within the scope of the following steps on the road to European integration, additional treaty provisions further consolidated and expanded the basis for a European approach.

1960 [HEALTH]: Contraception

The pill is introduced - available in the UK from 1961 on, first for married women only! (That changed in 1967.) It is currently taken by 3.5 million women in Britain between the ages of 16 and 49.

1967 [TRIVIA]: The Beatles

The Beatles release their landmark album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

1973 [EUROPE]: Britain, Denmark and Ireland join

Britain, Denmark and Ireland join the European Communities.

1977 [HEALTH]: Smallpox eradicated worldwide

Did you know? In 1948, the smallpox virus was infecting about 50 million people a year. One group of experts has estimated the global death toll from smallpox during the 20th century could have been around 300 million. The last recorded case – with lethal consequence – was Ali Maow Maalin from Merca, from Somalia, who worked as a vaccinator in the smallpox eradication programme, but he himself had not been vaccinated.

1977 [TRIVIA]: Star Wars

1st Star Wars movie has been released.

1979 [EUROPE]: European Parliament

First direct elections to the European Parliament take place.

Male - female ratio: 84% - 16%. And in the 2014: 63% - 37%.

1980 [HEALTH]: Mental health

The American Psychiatric Association adds “major depressive disorder” to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). To maintain consistency the ICD-10 used the same criteria, with only minor alterations, but using the DSM diagnostic threshold to mark a mild depressive episode, adding higher threshold categories for moderate and severe episodes.

1981 [EUROPE]: Greece joins

Greece joins the European Communities.

1983 [HEALTH]: HIV

Discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016, 1.0 million people died from HIV-related causes globally. 7 out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV received antiretroviral treatment.

1986 [EUROPE]: Portugal and Spain

Portugal and Spain join the European Communities.

1989 [WORLD]: Berlin Wall falls

Berlin Wall falls, the Solidarnosc movement in the ‘80s and the beginning end of the Eastern Block.

1991 [TRIVIA]: www.

The World Wide Web goes live to the world.

1991 [WORLD]: Voting rights

Introduction of the voting rights for women in the canton of Appenzell, Switzerland

1992 [EUROPE]: Treaty of Maastricht

Treaty of Maastricht is signed, constituting the European Union.

1993 [EUROPE]: Single Market

Single Market is launched and the four freedoms are established - free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour.

1995 [EUROPE]: Austria, Finland and Sweden join

Austria, Finland and Sweden join the European Union.

1995 [EUROPE]: Schengen Agreement

Schengen Agreement comes in to effect. It was signed in 1985, near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, by five of the ten Member States of the then European Economic Community. In 1990, the Agreement was supplemented by the Schengen Convention which proposed the complete abolition of systematic internal border controls and a common visa policy. The Schengen Area currently consists of 26 European countries covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square km.


EHFG TRIVIA: The first EHFG takes place in Bad Gastein, led by President Prof Günther Leiner.


Experts coming from various sectors of health policy - science, economy, industry, politics, patient organisations – met to discuss the main topic and to create visions to shape the future of health policy in Europe. Topics, such as the quality of care, equity, the role of technology, research on rare diseases and the impact of biotechnology were on the agenda.

1999 [EUROPE]: Amsterdam Treaty

Amsterdam Treaty comes into force. Under the Treaty of Amsterdam, Member States agreed to devolve certain powers from national governments to the European Parliament across diverse areas, including legislating on immigration, adopting civil and criminal laws, and enacting foreign and security policy (CFSP), as well as implementing institutional changes for expansion as new member nations join the EU.

1999 [WORLD]: 1999/2001 end of the Yugoslav Wars

Since the beginning in 1991, at least 130,000 people lost their lives in the conflicts in the former Yugoslav republics.


During the EHFG 2000 possibilities to communicate high-quality information about health, risks and disease to citizens were discussed. The increasingly significant role of IT applications in health systems was addressed and pros as well as cons were examined. The discussions about the future EU health strategy entered a decisive phase, the EHFG offering an excellent opportunity to put the EU Commission's proposals to a broader audience for debate.

2000 [EUROPE]: Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU is signed. The brings together in a single document the fundamental rights protected in the EU. It contains rights and freedoms under six titles: Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens' Rights, and Justice. The Charter has become legally binding on the EU with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in December 2009.

2000 [HEALTH]: Mad Cow Disease alarms Europe

Mad Cow Disease (BSE) spreads and alarms Europe. In the UK, the country worst affected by an epidemic in 1986–1998, more than 180,000 cattle were infected and 4.4 million slaughtered during the eradication program. The BSE crisis led to the EU banning exports of British beef, the ban lasted for 10 years before it was finally lifted in 2006. The ban resulted in trade controversies between the UK and other EU states, dubbed "beef war" by media.


The 4th edition addressed a major challenge to European health policy: the necessity of integrating health issues into different policy areas. The following topics were discussed: health policy against the background of globalisation and world trade, health policy in the context of the Single Market and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the relationship between health technology and health policy.

2001 [TRIVIA]: Wikipedia

Wikipedia is launched, reaching 5,452,599 articles in August 2017.

2001 [HEALTH]: first self-contained artificial heart implanted

The world’s first self-contained artificial heart is implanted in the USA.

2001 [WORLD]: World Trade Centre

Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre & the Pentagon kill nearly 3,000 people.


Topical issues such as patient mobility, the adaptability of healthcare systems in a changing environment and the future of public health research were discussed. Followed by inequalities in health and the resulting challenges for social policy, nutrition and food policy.

2002 [EUROPE]: common currency

Eurozone is launched - Euro coins and banknotes are introduced to the Eurozone countries.


The EHFG 2003 investigated a series of pivotal challenges for European health policy, among others pharmaceutical policy in Europe, a macro-economic view of the health sector and healthy ageing. Several timely issues such as crisis management and health policy against the backdrop of the SARS epidemy, safety and quality of human blood products in an enlarged Europe and patient oriented quality management in healthcare were also discussed.

2003 [HEALTH]: Tobacco Advertising Directive

The Tobacco Advertising Directive bans cross-border tobacco advertising and sponsorship in the media other than television. The ban covers print media, radio, internet and sponsorship of events involving several Member States, such as the Olympic games and Formula One races. Free distribution of tobacco is banned in such events. The ban covers advertising and sponsorship with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting a tobacco product.


Topics relating to values, principles and objectives of health policy in Europe were at the centre of the EHFG 2004. Further, issues that pose major challenges to health systems but are sometimes neglected, such as mental health, health at the workplace, women's health, were part of the programme.

2004 [TRIVIA]: Facebook

Facebook is founded, reaching 2 billion active users in 2017.

2004 [EUROPE]: EU Enlargement

Ten new Member States join the EU: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

2004 [HEALTH]: European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card is issued.

A free card that gives access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country. Cards are issued by national health insurance provider.


Debates on topics such as nutrition, eHealth, involvement of citizens as partners in health, research, the safety of medicines and healthy choices were at the centre of the 8th EHFG edition.

2005 [TRIVIA]: YouTube

YouTube platform is launched, reaching 1.5 billion active users in 2017.


A range of timely and urgent topics were discussed within the framework of the main theme, among them health policy innovation, healthcare infrastructure, health professional migration, pandemics and European Health Technology Assessment.


The EHFG celebrated its 10th edition. Under the motto "10 Years Gastein – Shaping the future of health" main aspects and challenges of European health policy were discussed to develop solutions for the future.

2007: Our flagship initiatives

Two EHFG flagship projects are launched – the European Health Award and the Young Forum Gastein.

2007 [EUROPE]: Bulgaria and Romania join

Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union.


Values as a guideline for human behaviour become increasingly important in a time when globalisation leads to the application of economic principles in many areas of life.

2008 [WORLD]: Black Monday

Black Monday: Lehman Brothers goes bankrupt, setting off the beginning of a worldwide economic crisis.

2008 [EUROPE]: Air Quality Directive

The Air Quality Directive is adopted by European Council, coming into force in 2016. It aims to reduce the number of premature deaths due to air pollution in the EU by 50% in 2030.


The focus in 2009 was on health policy in times of financial crisis to find appropriate solutions for a balanced interaction between the industry, health systems and patients.

2009 [EUROPE]: Treaty of Lisbon

The Treaty of Lisbon, initially known as the Reform Treaty, is signed.

2009 [HEALTH]: smoke-free environments

The Council Recommendation on smoke-free environments is adopted.


This year was marked by the growing awareness that the future of health will be complex, with the pace of change accelerating and the boundaries blurring. The discussions have shown that demographic change, globalisation, individualism and new technologies are four trends that will shape our lives in future.

2010: Finance crisis

EU finance ministers agree on Greek bailout.


The conference provided a timely opportunity to reflect on the United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which had taken place just a few weeks previously.

2011 [WORLD]: first successful synthetic organ transplant

The world’s first successful synthetic organ transplant - the patient received a new trachea, made from his own stem cells.

2011 [WORLD]: Arab Spring movement

The Arab Spring movement begins in Tunisia.


Health communication and the future development of healthcare were two of the key topics. We also looked at the performance of European health systems in times of economic crisis and both the challenges and new possibilities that such conditions create for healthcare.

2012: New EHFG President

Election of the EHFG President Prof Helmut Brand.

2012 [TRIVIA]: eHealth & apps

The 1st health app directory is launched by PatientView, containing information on mobile apps across 62 health specialities & featuring apps in 32 different languages. In 2016, there are 259,000 health apps available globally.

2012 [EUROPE]: EU awarded Nobel Peace Prize

-- "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe" --

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 97 times to 130 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2016, 104 individuals and 26 organizations.


The 16th edition of the EHFG explored the relationship between austerity policies and necessary innovations in health care systems in order to keep them resilient. Experts looked for answers to the following three questions: 1) What are the key strategies to make health systems resilient? 2) What are the most important innovations to promote health system performance and resilience? 3) How can decision-makers best introduce and implement these innovations?

2013 [EUROPE]: Croatia joins

Croatia joins the European Union.

2013 [HEALTH]: Ebola Outbreak

Outbreak of Ebola virus, ravaging countries in western Africa. By January 2016, suspected & confirmed cases had totalled more than 28,600, and reported deaths numbered about 11,300.


The EHFG 2014 reflected on the opportunities and risks for health in light of the outcome of the recent European elections, and discussed how to maintain and improve the health of European citizens.

2014 [HEALTH]: traffic light legislation

New EU legislations on Food information to consumers, including labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs & Nutrition labelling for foodstuffs come into force.


The EHFG 2015 covered topics such as sustainable health systems and health economics. With the focus on health system performance, pricing of medicines and health security, including health threat responses, European development aid and health policy development.

2015 [WORLD]: Migration crisis

Migration crisis in Europe, with more than a million migrants and refugees crossing into Europe


The 2016 conference took place against a backdrop of concerns about the future, both in terms of the European political landscape and the challenges posed by demographic change - including population ageing, the rise of multimorbidity, increased societal diversity and migratory pressures

2016 [EUROPE]: BreXit

Brexit: in a referendum, UK citizens voted to leave the EU, with 51,9 % vs. 48,1 %.


While efforts to foster inter-sectoral cooperation on health have been successful at times, real challenges remain. We invite you to discuss how we can move forward in several concrete areas: Health in All Policies, Health systems, Access to medicines and Innovation, Big Data & ICT.

2017: New EHFG President

Election of EHFG President Dr Clemens Martin Auer

2017: ...



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