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European Health Forum Gastein

Wilm Quentin: NCDs and the private sector—part of the problem or part of the solution?

21 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Wilm_QuentinOne of the last sessions of the European Health Forum Gastein aimed to find answers to the question of how to engage the private sector in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Gauden Galea, director of the Division of NCDs and Life-Course at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe, and organiser and moderator of the session, asked: “What are the first steps that we can take to activate the private sector in collaboration for NCD prevention and control?” more…

Mihail Călin: Romanian healthcare workers keep packing

13 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Mihail_CălinAn oncologist from Tulcea, a city 280 kilometres east of Romanian capital Bucharest, returned to work one week into his retirement because there was no other specialist to care for his 4000 patients. In Maramureș, a Romanian county on the northern border with Ukraine, an anaesthesiologist has to commute between two towns so that emergency surgeries can be performed–other operations are being postponed for less crowded days. Călărași, a poor county in the south, only has one diabetologist.

All of these reports are partly owing to the massive migration of medical personnel, which began after Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007. Between 14 000 and 20 000 doctors—and probably at least as many nurses—have left the country over the past seven years, leaving behind patients with even poorer access to care and overwhelmed colleagues. Many Romanians are pinning their hopes for solutions on the EU—the destination for most migrant health workers. more…

John Bowis: Schizophrenia and social inclusion

10 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

john_bowisAt the European Health Forum in Gastein, Austria, mental health figured prominently in the programme. The first two sessions centred on “Mental health—the motor for a healthy economy,” at which the link to unemployment was highlighted and ways discussed in which employers could take a more imaginative approach to their (physical and mental) health at work policies. Alongside this was a hard look at the ways alcohol played a role as a cause and effect of mental health problems. The third session centred on schizophrenia and social inclusion.

Just imagine you have been to your GP and he has made a diagnosis and you go round to the pub or back to work and say to your friends or colleagues, “Do you know what—I’ve just been told I have got schizophrenia.” more…

Jennifer Hislop: Florence Nightingale and Mae West – the unsung pioneers of health policy?

9 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Jennifer HislopThe second part of the session “Investing in health. From health to wealth” at the European Health Forum Gastein was devoted to “Resolving the efficiency and quality dilemma.” Olivia Wigzell, Deputy Director General of Health and Social Affairs in Sweden, spoke eloquently on the topic of health systems performance assessment (HSPA), citing Florence Nightingale as an early pioneer. Not only did Nightingale evaluate the effectiveness of performance during the Crimean War, she also used visual methods of describing her statistics to articulate the problems clearly and so aid politicians in their decision making. We can only wonder what Florence Nightingale would have achieved with PowerPoint at her fingertips. Things are of course different now and perhaps she would have lost her zeal for statistics if it had been policy to collect key performance indicator data? more…

Jennifer Hislop: Running healthcare systems in an age of austerity—riding the “rodeo bull”

9 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Jennifer HislopThis was the analogy put to delegates by Hungarian Minister of State for Health, Miklos Szocska, during the first session of the European Health Forum panel on “Investing for health. From health to wealth.” But can all European countries make sure they stay in the saddle?

DG SANCO director general Paola Testori Coggi focused her talk around the commission staff working document, “Investing in Health,” and detailed the upcoming priorities at EU level, including the implementation of the cross border healthcare directive. She reiterated the need to view health spending as an opportunity for investment—fewer sick days mean increased productivity among the workforce. After all, how can Europe get back on its feet financially if we’re all unwell? more…

Kristine Sorensen: The challenge of publishing health research

8 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

kristine_sorensenWe live in an information rich society, where information is produced and communicated faster and faster. New technologies and ways of communicating, combined with a high demand for health related news, increases the necessity of health experts, and science and health journalists to collaborate. But what can they expect from one another?

Scientists are trained for years to write comprehensive, detailed, and often lengthy and complex papers for scientific peer-reviewed journals. When they communicate with their peers or with students it is in lectures; often 45 minutes or longer. They are dualists—often explaining a topic “on the one hand… on the other hand”—providing different perspectives and a focus on limitations and exceptions. They avoid  simplification to ensure that all details are taken into account. They need to publish in high impact journals to gain credentials. Getting information across to the lay public counts less. more…

Roberto Debono: “We must not speak about crisis, we must speak about a new reality”

8 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Roberto DebonoThe title is a quote from a discussion between Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, the Minister of Health, Lithuania, and Spyridon-Adonis Georgiades, the Minister of Health, Greece, and it set the tone at the opening plenary of the 16th European Health Forum, which kicked off on Wednesday 2 October at 12.30 sharp in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.

Dr Helmut Brand, President of the International Forum Gastein, introduced the forum, this year entitled Resilient and Innovative Health Systems for Europe, to a full house of public health professionals against the picturesque backdrop of the Gastein valley.

In the words of Spyridon-Adonis Georgiades, the Greek Minister for Health and one of the five guests on the panel, the crisis (or new reality) “…will be with us for many more years to come,” and policy should be structured to address such a reality. more…

Daniel Cauchi: Medical innovation

14 Oct, 11 | by BMJ Group

At the 14th European Health Forum Gastein (5-8 October 2011), a group of “Young Gasteiners” blogged live from the talks. A selection of their blogs are on the BMJ blogsite.

Dan Cauchi
Apparently many people no longer trust scientists – this may be one of the reasons why educated youngsters are losing interest in studying science. We need to build bridges between science and the public, enabling them to make knowledgeable decisions.


Michael West: Health 2020

12 Oct, 11 | by BMJ Group

At the 14th European Health Forum Gastein (5-8 October 2011), a group of “Young Gasteiners” blogged live from the talks. A selection of their blogs are on the BMJ blogsite.

Michael WestThe Health 2020 session at the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG), sponsored by WHO Europe, provided a chance to discuss and contribute towards WHO’s developing regional health policy – Health 2020. The session discussed both the aims of the policy, and what capabilities will be needed to implement it.

This exposes an issue which goes to the heart of EHFG and the Young Gastein initiative in particular – the relationship between research and policy. There was an overall sense of frustration that the ever growing mountain of scientific research has not been taken up by policymakers. If the facts are clear – why has action not followed? more…

Sana Din: Lessons from the East

10 Oct, 11 | by BMJ Group

At the 14th European Health Forum Gastein (5-8 October 2011), a group of “Young Gasteiners” are blogging live from the talks. A selection of their blogs are on the BMJ blogsite.

The workshop, “Lessons from the East” provided an interesting overview on how Eastern countries are dealing with issues regarding existing resources, the financing of their health systems, and other problems.

The reforms and models presented by the speakers made me think critically about it. From my perspective as a student not yet not working professionally in the health field, the reforms, plans, and suggestions that were presented seemed a bit too idealistic. Theoretically they sound great and promising, but I doubt whether in practice they can be implemented. more…

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