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  • EuroHealthNet stimulates new approaches at EU levels for health at Brussels conference, by Clive Needle, EurohealthNet Policy and Advocacy Director | EuroHealthNet
    Floyd song too many people in Europe are hanging on in quiet desperation We need to offer them real hope He reminded the packed audience of health and social organisations at the International Press Centre just a few steps from EU headquarters that the headline purpose of the EU includes Treaty commitments to promote peace cohesion and wellbeing for its citizens in addition to the specific provisions of the articles on ensuring public health in all EU policies He urged support for social investment programmes focussed on people before technologies cutting jobs or conditions in health systems increases unemployment or poverty rather than effectively meeting economic and social needs it just shifts the burdens ahead Explaining how EuroHealthNet has adapted to new challenges in its operations and work within the EU employment and social programmes as well as health and research Clive appealed to all participants to practice more effective partnerships towards common causes and to accept shared responsibility in times when governments cannot succeed alone We need to work with local communities but also with businesses in one of the biggest markets in the world not just about healthy products but also why tackling poor pay and conditions offers multiple benefits he said Remember the most difficult word in politics is NO Choices are necessary Not everything we want is achievable immediately but we all need to be part of solutions not only expose problems For that we need to identify meaningful targets and improve accountability for all in the EU institutions within the next five years Several EuroHealthNet colleagues and members also participated at the event including President Nicoline Tamsma and Managing Director Caroline Costongs Clive Needle is working with the Executive Board to complete the EuroHealthNet submission to the EU2020 priority strategic consultation now underway What do

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  • Any plan for the summer? Let's take sustainable development approaches - by Clive Needle - EuroHealthNet's Policy and Advocacy Director | EuroHealthNet
    rare case of an important and enjoyable read EuroHealthNet has long taken a keen role in sustainable development approaches not least through an innovative collaboration of economic environment social and health experts called SPREAD which carried out a study of that title funded by the EU research programme We frequently use and advocate for many of its ideas and evidence which you can find here Since then we have collaborated with several initiatives with WHO Europe to help develop its health and environment guidance ranging from work on climate change and vulnerable populations participation in events such as the Parma Conference or the annual events of the Transport Health and Environment pan European Programme THE PEP and participating in a developing environmental economics network all of which can be accessed here We are committed to seek to link the social environmental and economic agendas at EU levels through tackling health inequities Therefore I turned to Chapter 10 of Juniper s book titled A Natural Health Service with particular interest Sure enough up front are the hard economic benefits spelt out 12 million dollars from ten per cent more cycling in Copenhagen low costs of maintaining green spaces helping wellbeing in the UK compared to high human and economic costs of mental illnesses citing evidence from the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research and others The book details many more examples about wellbeing illnesses and their causes throughout It shows why we believe there is so much to be gained from positive linked approaches to environmental health improvements beyond sometimes narrow definitions within public health traditions and why we feel the EU has much to do to fully play its part This book is not alone in its approach I and my student daughter were energised in 2012 by a publication

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  • Health Promotion and primary care, by Clive Needle, EuroHealthNet's Policy and Advocacy Director | EuroHealthNet
    definition The Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in Health EXPH considers primary care to be the provision of universally accessible integrated person centred comprehensive health and community services provided by a team of professionals accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health needs These services are delivered in a sustained partnership with patients and informal care givers in the context of family and community and play a central role in the overall coordination and continuity of people s care They go on to look at referral systems and financing measures with many important conclusions about practices variations strengths and inequalities in systems across Europe You can read this plus information about the panel composition and remit at http ec europa eu health expert panel opinions docs 004 definitionprimarycare en pdf EuroHealthNet studied the provisional opinion carefully and decided to support it which was apparently the widely held view among those who responded Clearly the panel is doing a good job so far and can contribute to better decision making at EU and national levels EuroHealthNet wants to play its part We have entered into a collaboration agreement with the European Forum for Primary Care EFPC so we can learn from each other and work better together We will seek to take this forward practically and innovatively by participating at a workshop at the EFPC conference in Barcelona in September see here There we will discuss developments on health and social investment at EU level including on the Council Conclusions urging innovative ways of integration the Panel recognition of the importance of integrated approaches and responding to the wider EC Communication on effective accessible and resilient health systems see here We believe the interface between community health promotion care and integrated multi sectoral approaches is crucial in tackling

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  • New European Parliament shaping up for big issues ahead - By Clive Needle, EuroHealthNet's Advocacy and Policy Director | EuroHealthNet
    by the relevant parliamentary committees for their portfolio and be expected to grasp their complex new briefs within a few short weeks or face at least embarrassment and at worst rejection and replacement which happens rarely but is certainly possible Hence officials across the EC directorates have for some time not only been dealing with existing business but also helping outgoing Commissioners complete their work and prepare briefings for their successors As with any change of administration it is a fraught and uncertain time So to play its part Parliament has been choosing and electing its own leaders Depending on your own views one may either smile wryly or frown with concern at how it does that partly through a proportional system ensuring most groups are represented but partly through internal political deals which are far less transparent As the Christian Democrat EPP saw Mr Juncker lead the Commission it supported the nominee of the next largest group the Social Democrat S D Martin Schulz to be Parliament President for the first half of the term Mr Schulz who was most helpful to EuroHealthNet and the European Public Health Conference in preparing its parliamentary reception in November 2013 thus became the first President to be re elected since open elections from 1979 Eleven Vice Presidents were also elected to form the Bureau which with five elected Quaestors who oversee the operational direction of the institution will preside over plenary sessions and set agendas They thus represent senior sources of parliamentary power The leaders of the political groups are also important figures in decision making Full groups meet monthly but each has professional operations covering all aspects of EU political life plus strong liaison with national parties They too have changed significantly this summer including Manfred Weber from Germany taking over the helm of the EPP former Italian medical doctor Gianni Pitella just elected as the new leader of the S D and thus hopefully a prominent voice for health and Syed Kamall becoming the British leader of the European Conservatives Reformists ECR group All group leaders will be vocal on the major issues and play vital tactical roles The other key posts which have just been decided are the leaders of the 22 committees which really form the backbone of the legislative work for MEPs if they do their job fully That of course is a contentious issue for the much greater number elected on mandates to oppose the working of the EU in various ways We may well see a very different parliament politically this term which we shall examine in future posts here The usual process now is that new or renewable legislation and regulation is put forward by the Commission to both the Parliament and Council for their eventual joint decision In Parliament that means allocation for responsibility for scrutiny to at least one main committee often with subsidiary opinions by other relevant committees Therefore establishing the process timetable and methods of scrutiny offer important opportunities for

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  • Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): Why is a health promotion and social equity organisation concerned enough to make its views known the subject? - by Clive Needle - EuroHealthnet's Advocacy and Policy Director | EuroHealthNet
    media and political maelstrom truths are not always simple to discern EuroHealthNet was not established to be a lobbying organisation although it has always had a role to contribute evidence based information When our attention was initially attracted to TTIP from our monitoring of EU developments affecting health in all policies we noted with concern that in smaller but similarly based agreements elsewhere some public health or environmental measures notably to tackle sales of tobaccos had been challenged by what is known as the Investor to State Dispute settlement process essentially an international out of court arbitration process for markets for example as set out by the government in Australia here That worried us as we see international progress on such matters as essential for health promotion Following this up through liaison with stakeholders and policy makers and studying copious publications led us to conclude that there is indeed a public health interest to be considered and potentially defended in the EU We realised that the scope of trade agreements potentially covers such a wide range of health related sectors and products that there are in fact many aspects which ideally will be carefully scrutinised before decisions are made including for food safety environmental and pharmaceutical sectors Indeed looking at the DG Trade site now one will see other global deals being negotiated on services here and a recently announced Green goods initiative here Much of those agreements may well be good for the smart sustainable and inclusive objectives of the overall EU 2020 strategic approach But we need to be vigilant It is important to point out this clear statement by the EU No EU free trade agreement forces governments to privatise or deregulate any public service at national or local level Nor will any other trade deal which the EU is currently negotiating Countries that sign up to free trade agreements can keep public monopolies and regulate public services as they see fit each country is free to choose the services or activities it wants to allow foreign companies to provide These choices are known as commitments The EU always excludes from its commitments publicly funded health and social services publicly funded education water collection purification distribution and management services EuroHealthNet respects the good faith of officials experts and negotiators who have reassured us of this approach and restated the importance of protecting public health in the EU Treaty articles which set out its importance in all EU policies including trade We are also grateful to partners who have helped us to understand relevant technical aspects of TTIP Therefore we have made a reasoned submission which balances general appreciation of the potential mutual benefits of sustainable economic development and trade between the USA and the EU with support for constructive suggestions how significant improvements may be made to the specific aspects of ISDS mechanisms which risk potentially undermining those commitments however inadvertently If such safeguards cannot be guaranteed EuroHealthNet would be likely to agree with those calling for

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  • 2013 European Health Forum Gastein: by Clive Needle - EuroHealthnet's Advocacy and Policy Director | EuroHealthNet
    health systems face In the EU context this sits prominently within the overall EU 2020 economic strategy and in particular its social dimension which is where EuroHealthNet has ploughed a lonely furrow taking a health for all policies approach in the context of the Platform against Poverty I chaired a session on public health elements which included a constructive overview of actions from Dr John Ryan EC Director of Public Health plus a thought provoking study of evidence of cost effective interventions by Dr Mark Pearson of OECD This indeed provoked audience reactions in terms of how prioritisation should be judged and decided in varying timeframes as impact varies considerably yet may have differential values at intervals The session concluded with a description of actions on immunosemesence within the framework of the EU Innovation Partnership on active ageing from Sanofi Pasteur MD research There will be many EU WHO and other follow up conferences and meetings in months to come on these subjects as healthcare systems are subjected to affordability and efficiency stress tests EuroHealthNet has published its own paper on sustainability and equity for health systems in 2012 which will be updated in 2014 within the context of its new Platform for Health Social Equity PHASE and the EU Social Investment Package see here After the SANCO Forum the EC directorate for Research organised an excellent workshop on knowledge transfer including practical lessons from successful FP7 programme projects where users policymakers and media had been well engaged I spoke informally about the importance of integrity in evidence in the context of advocacy and the new Horizon 2020 programme and the potential outputs of the ongoing DRIVERS project Lastly I spoke at a workshop organised by WHO Europe on the outcomes of the Oslo conference on health systems in time

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  • WHO Meeting - Follow up Tallin Charter: by Clive Needle - EuroHealthnet's Advocacy and Policy Director | EuroHealthNet
    mist cleared I knew I should have picked up the prompt It is in fact a fundamental question at the heart of how public health systems will succeed or fail in the coming decade It is also a metaphor for the future of the European Union for it is about the interface where individual rights meet collective responsibilities something which has been at stake ever since the EU took a role in public health and many other things beyond markets for widgets 20 years ago something we will celebrate commemorate at the major European public health conference in Brussels in November So let me raise just three points for now which I think deserve deeper discussions in the context of health systems strengthening Markets are the dominant 21st century framework for societies in Europe as globally There is a clear market element with which public systems grapple in terms of products services and safety clearly a valid consumer producer health dimension But there are very different dynamics at play Unlike many health system planners I studied and practiced in business then politics before being involved in health policy The mindsets are very different Problem solving in commerce is rapid and focussed competitive and often dictatorial in public systems it is democratic slow and complex by comparison Yet the two approaches are being conflated As a leading politician said recently is it wise that health system decisions are increasingly made by competition lawyers rather than doctors What is the public good If buzz phrases like health for consumers or patient centred health are meant to assuage me as an individual that I am not on a production line I am not convinced I am sometimes a patient always a citizen only a consumer when I must be because I believe in something bigger and more important sustainable development I don t want health for growth or wealth I want the wellbeing for all enshrined in the WHO founding Charter and the EU Treaty its first article about objectives not the specific health article significantly I see health as part of human development in tandem with social knowledge environmental and other aspects of societal progress I think that is at the core of the Tallinn Charter and many other WHO Charters as agreed in Ottawa or Alma Ata and many more since the WHO and EC began So what are health systems for just a basis for us to buy things or something more fundamental If we know that answer why do we keep talking why others sell us things I flew to Tallinn on a low cost airline not least to save public expenditure I was treated shoddily cramped rushed to suit the company needs rather than my comfort But that is similar to the model which I increasingly see advocated by powerful management consultants for solving the problem of apparent unsustainable health care in Europe That itself is arguably a mirage deliberately fostered because the solutions proposed by economic experts

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  • Can European school health move beyond its ABC? By Clive Needle - EuroHealthnet's Advocacy and Policy Director | EuroHealthNet
    As the event moderator I learnt much and enjoyed the event I was sometimes inspired by speakers and the parallel group of young students from Danish schools who linked with counterparts in Lithuania and Macedonia made a robust intelligent and fun contribution providing voices for the future I hope the Statement on which draft I worked throughout with the Organising Committee and Rapporteur will prove a useful tool for work at many levels in future It is with that constructive approach in mind that I offer five brief observations as a supporter and future contributor to the Advisory body of SHE It is an outstanding achievement by many people incredibly hard working in health education and governance sectors to take the concept so far since it was first established this was just the 4th such conference after initial events in Athens Egmond and Vilnius Many have contributed as volunteer workers As WHO division director Gauden Galea noted one challenge now is to make this process systematic rather than voluntary with full support from policy to practice That may be hard in tough economic times a strong approach will be needed Much of the evidence presented was on an academic or research basis Several presenters called for more multidisciplinary holistic approaches As in other aspects or settings for health promotion I feel a need is to improve links with other sectors That work for health in all practices and policies is more easily said than done as we have seen within the global health promotion conference process earlier in 2013 at Helsinki for example or via the EuroHealthNet Crossing Bridges project on methodologies across sectors An example of that is with movements around children at home I did not hear mention of thinking around an EU Recommendation for its states on child poverty reduction The conference theme was Equity Education and Health It is great that equity is at the heart of HPS and it is clearly practiced But just as health promoters generally can improve links with social inclusion gender anti discrimination and other related specialisms I feel that clear strategic objectives towards that will be helpful We have structured the Odense Statement draft to help that for example by identifying a wider range of target audiences I would have expected to hear more about community links with social care structures for example While HPS is well connected with WHO processes and also has EU funding support sometimes it feels a little distant I was surprised that so few in the audience knew of latest work on social determinants of health which were well presented by Professor Allan Dyson Many of the recommendations of the Marmot reports feature early child development or the school as a major factor in tackling the causes of the causes of ill health I would see HPS practitioners as being front line advocates of approaches of social determinants of wellbeing approaches Clearly many are immensely committed and country approaches will necessarily vary but again I

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