Harnessing the power of participation at Europe’s largest public health conference

The 2022 edition of the European Public Health Conference – Europe’s largest gathering of public health associations, institutions and professionals – held in Berlin on 9-12 November, concluding a call to invest in stronger health systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic .

Participating in the conference with a delegation of WHO/Europe experts, Dr. Hans Henry P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, urged the public health community in the region to adopt a “dual-track” approach to strengthen health systems in countries. urged. , focusing on both the provision of high quality services and emergency preparedness and response.

“In a world of ever-growing health crisis, in times of economic and financial turmoil, we must accept and work towards this new paradigm. On the one hand, we must make significant investments in preparing for growing and often overlapping emergencies,” explained Dr. Kluge. “And on the other, we must ensure that we prevent disease, promote health, and provide daily essential health services.” Redouble your efforts to strengthen

Key elements of strong and resilient health systems

Organized by the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) – the umbrella organization for public health associations and institutions across Europe – the annual conference took place in person for the first time in 3 years. Over 2500 participants arrived in Berlin, eager to exchange ideas and perspectives on how to prepare health systems for the unforeseen.

WHO/Europe hosted or participated in a series of sessions on topics including health financing, health workforce, data and digital health, emergency preparedness, refugees from Ukraine, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), health in prisons, and cross-border health took. and local level.

During the pre-conference, the Advisory Council of the Regional Director on Innovation for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDAC) discussed how EUPHA and its partner networks can advance the NCD agenda in the European region, including: heart disease, childhood obesity, digital marketing, green and healthy cities, alcohol taxation, and data and digital health.

The first plenary meeting of the conference, organized by the WHO Barcelona Office for Health Systems Financing, focused on the theme: “Can people pay for health care?” Discussing the latest evidence on financial security in the European region, the panel focused on raising awareness of the most prevalent gaps in coverage in the region’s health systems, the policies that create them and what countries can do to address them. Can

Although countries in the region have committed to meeting the goals of universal health coverage – ensuring that everyone can access quality health services without experiencing financial hardship – research from the WHO Barcelona Office shows that Out-of-pocket payments still lead to large inequalities in financial security within the region and between countries.

Presenting the latest findings from key WHO/Europe reports

WHO experts have the opportunity to join conference delegates around some of the most recent findings from the latest major WHO/Europe report, “European Health Report 2021: Taking Stock with a Focus on Health-related Sustainable Development Goals in the COVID-19 Era” There was an opportunity. On Leaving No One Behind”, “WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022” and “Health and Care Workforce in Europe: Time to Act”.

On the health workforce, participants agreed on the need to urgently improve working conditions and develop strategies to attract and retain health workers to prevent health systems from collapsing over the next 10 years. On obesity, experts provide new perspectives on this important public health issue, discussing current strategies and possible future scenarios for tackling the obesity epidemic. And in a workshop introducing the European Health Report, participants heard about the importance of addressing gaps in data and health information systems to inform policy and decision making.

WHO/Europe Connect and engage with the European public health community

One of the highlights of the conference was the opportunity for the public health community to finally network and meet in person again, which has not happened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO/Europe was one of a group of organizations hosting “stands” at the conference, where participants could stop to learn more about WHO’s work, meet staff, and discuss how the WHO region How to better support the public health workforce in the U.S.

Many students stopped to ask about ways to get more involved with WHO, that too through WHO’s global internship program, which is currently set to resume in January 2023 after a gap of 3 years.

“It’s great news to hear that once again there will be an opportunity to do an internship with WHO,” said an enthusiastic public health master’s student from Italy. “I really want to make a difference as part of WHO’s work – you are like the superheroes of health!”

WHO/Europe stands with the public health workforce

COVID-19, like other public health emergencies before it, has revealed both the best and the worst of public health. In this challenging time, WHO/Europe looks forward to working with all partners, such as EUPHA, the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), EuroHealthNet and others Advancing leadership and ensuring that the public health community receives the visibility and recognition needed to navigate these challenging times.

“This European Public Health Conference embodies the vision of delivering health for all through the power of partnership. There is great power in the collaboration we represent,” said Dr. Kluge in his keynote address. “Seeing you all gathered here, committed and determined to make a difference, I am filled with hope and optimism that the future is bright for public health in Europe.”

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