On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the EHFG conference, in 2007, the Young Forum Gastein scholarship was initiated. It started as a joint project of the Gastein Forum and the European Commission (DG Health and Consumers and DG Research) aimed at young, promising researchers and officials from around Europe and beyond who work in the field of health, to introduce them to the Gastein process – bridging the gap between research and policy-making and facilitating learning and networking. Throughout the past ten years the network significantly developed. Young Gasteiners do not simply attend the conference any more, but are actively involved in the programme by acting as speakers and rapporteurs.
In the framework of an engaging and stimulating dedicated YFG-programme, the scholarship offers a unique opportunity to:
To strengthen the network several activities are organised throughout the year, such as:
34 Young Forum Gasteiners build the fundament of the network. Closed meeting with EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou took place.
71 young researchers & officials from 28 European countries attend the conference. A Young Forum Gastein networking workshop & specific working groups took place. Scholars met with the EU Commissioner John Dalli and the Director General for Health and Consumers Paola Testori Coggi.
As part of a pilot project the WHO Europe joined, sponsoring several scholars form eastern Europe and central Asia. The initiative expanded not just in numbers and countries represented, but also in their tasks and responsibilities during the conference.
Young professionals from 30 countries were awarded the scholarship. The mix was 43% policy-makers and 57% researchers. 60% alumni vs. 40% newcomers.
For the first time a number of NGO representatives joined as YFG scholars, covering the third of the EHFG participation pillars.
76 scholars, representing 23 countries. 60% newcomers - 40% alumni. 46 females & 30 males. 32% policy-makers, 48% researchers, 8% working for NGOs, 12% classified themselves as “others” :)
The Young Forum Gastein offered its scholars a tailor-made progamme including a skills-building workshop and a topical session on the future of public health training in Europe. Young Gasteiners had an informal meeting with Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis as well as the opportunity of careers talks and mentoring sessions.
The YFG adapts to the current situation by employing advanced communication tools replicating the YFG experience online, while allowing for an even greater flexibility and interactivity. 38 scholars from 23 countries, including 12 scholars from public sector, 14 scholars from science and academia, 8 civil society representatives and 4 private sector participants join the YFG 2020 cohort.
YFG is so special because it facilitates a cross-generational exchange between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners working on European health challenges.
For me, Young Gastein is an excellent learning and networking opportunity, where I get inspired to continue developing my work as a Public Health practitioner.
There is literally nothing more important you can make out of a conference than establishing new connections which may enrich your professional and personal horizons. And this is what Young Forum Gastein does best.
The YFG Alumni Coordinators have previously made outstanding contributions to the work of the YFG Task Force and will provide advisory support in developing the YFG Alumni Network further. With this new initiative, the EHFG wants to strengthen the communication with alumni and emphasise the importance of the network.
Damir Ivankovic, MD, MBA
HealthPros PhD Fellow, University Medical Centers, Amsterdam UMC
Damiët Onderstal, MSc
Public Health Attaché, Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the European Union