Health as an Asset (F8)

‘No health is an island’ – Are we trapped in an ocean of missed opportunities?

It’s day two of EHFG 2018 and we already discussed so many interesting health-related areas but are we focused on the ‘real’ issues? What really matters in all our discussions? People, it’s all about people’s health! We need to keep that in the back of our minds, always. And as individuals, we live in complex societies and we thrive for development, well-being and happiness. I would like to remind you of Maslow’s pyramid of necessities and how critical is to address basic needs within the whole population. If we want to have a healthier population, we surely need to create a salutogenic context across all sectors that affect health – which means basically everything!

While you’re reading this, just image that society as a boat in the middle of the ocean. David Linch reminds us that not only healthcare services should be considered in this equation. Actually, our ocean is full of social and economic factors that can lead us to a calm and enjoyable trip, or can also smash us with a storm of social problems and economic lightinings.

While we are crossing the waters, they don’t remain stable and quiet. Neither inequalities in health do! In fact, they keep their alarmous rising tide, threatening the sustainability of our boat as a whole. We really need fearless captains rather than short sighted pirates…I mean, politicians! Some leaders can see that reelection island really near, missing the paradisiac island that is 10 and 20 years far. Social determinants of health are (still!) an essential topic that calls for interventions, as Sir Michael Marmot highlighted in his inspirational speech!

Vesna-Kerstin Petric gave us some really nice ideas to get some gold that will allow us to build a stronger and resilient boat, capable of travelling the Bermudas’ Triangle. Slovenian ship actually looked for the financial help of other ‘armadas’ like Norway and the European Union. So why should we give it a try?

The key to this treasure might lay in having an organized kitchen inside our ship, trained navigators and a well-designed structure. In other words, planning across sectors! There is an urge to plan health around a table that brings together municipalities, academia, policy-makers, community and NGOs, at least. And around this table, we can define a strategy to conquer the seas through definitions of priorities, which would be the focus on prevention by investing real money and resources! Should we go for the basic shipments or start fishing for lobsters first?

For the further days I leave you some words to thought about, inspired by the sustainable development in health:

  • Plan
  • Prioritize
  • People
  • Partnerships

(And I would dare you to add Politics and Pirates!)

This is the time to take action and build an ‘armada of societies’ to reach this magical island where social cohesion grows, wealth is fairly distributed, and health is an asset rather than a burden. Close your eyes and imagine how wonderful that would be – now open your eyes and start playing your role!

Such a long journey will only be successful with the involvement of all sectors and an upstream intervention in the ‘causes of the causes’.

PS: An enormous thank to ‘Captain’ Tim Elwell-Sutton for setting up this session that reminded everybody about the importance of intersectoral action in health.

This blog was written by a Young Gasteiner Duarte Vital Brito

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