On June 26-28 the WHO Regions for Health Network held its annual meeting and celebrated its 25th anniversary with a 3-day event hosted by the provinces of the Euroregion Meuse-rhine. EUREGHA was among the speakers of the conference that took place in Aachen, Maastricht, Liege and Hasselt. ‘Keeping people at the centre of health care and sustainable development policies’ was the topic discussed during the 3 days, focusing on three main topics: equity, participatory approaches and human resources for health. The implementation at the subnational level of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underpinned all the debates throughout the conference.
The opening session on the 26th was dedicated to “Reducing health inequities in Europe: what can regions do?” During the debate, Ms Chris Brown, the Head of the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development, WHO Regional Office for Europe, focused on the many reasons that are keeping citizens in Europe from good health. Ms Brown stressed that inequity in access to and quality of healthcare, financial insecurity, poor quality housing, higher levels of social exclusion and lack of decent work are the leading causes. During the Panel discussion EUREGHA’s Chair, Mr Nick Batey, presented the activities the network is undertaking at EU level on health inequities and good practices from the Wales, Emilia-Romagna and Buskerud.
On the 27th, the first session of the conference was held in the Limburg Province government building where the Treaty of Maastricht was signed in 1992. Such a prestigious framework inspired a lively discussion around “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: from global to local through participatory approaches.” The keynote speaker, Ms Bettina Menne, Coordinator of the Health and Sustainable Development (SDG) for Denmark pointed out the importance of the coordination with and the inclusion of local and regional government to reach the SDGs. 65% of the 169 SDGs target can only be implemented if the inclusion of regional and local government is assured.
During the session on “Feedback from the Citizens’ Summit: citizens’ views on equity, sustainable development and participatory approaches, human resources for health”, Mr Jo Maes underlined the importance of having citizens at the centre of health and sustainable policies and reported on the Citizens’ Summit initiative in the Euroregion Meuse-rhine . The fifth session was on “Sustainable Development Goals: how to make them goals for everyone”. Representatives from Friuli Venezia Giulia (IT), Wales (UK) and the Netherlands described some impressive experiences conducted in their regions such as the “micro-areas” in Trieste, the Welsh “Future Generation Act.” and the Institute for positive health
The interactive session took place on a boat headed from Maastricht to Liege with a “World Café-style method.” The topics discussed were equity, environment and health, and Gender and human rights. Moreover, many health-related projects such as “School and community setting”, “HELPADOS“, “BReIN”, “Gezonde Gemeente (Healthy Community)”, “Kaleido”, “euPrevent Senior Friendly Community” and “Data in the EMR” were presented.In Liege a session was dedicated to “Improving population health: best practices from the regions”. Stakeholders from the province of Liege, GGD South Limburg, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the Flanders Agency for Care and Health presented their experiences and points of view on the topic.
The first session on the 28th was “The new health workforce: going beyond the health sector“. Ms Gabrielle Jacob, Programme Manager for Human Resources for Health at the WHO Regional Office for Europe discussed how to build a health workforce able to meet the challenging health needs of the future, and to keep people independent and in control of their health.
EUREGHA held the last session on Healthcare in Cross-border Regions of the 25th annual meeting of the WHO Regions for Health Network. Mr Karsten Uno Petersen from the Committee of Regions tackled the EU healthcare cross-border directive implementation. Moreover, Ms Julia Winkler, from Healthacross together with Mr Nick Batey, presented EUREGHA’s EUHPP Joint Statement on Healthcare in Cross-border Regions. Finally, the participants were divided into small groups to discuss the current challenges, goals and solutions related to cross-border healthcare. During the discussion the main topics which came to light to improve the cross-border healthcare were: the analysis of National Contact Points’ governance and financing, better engagement of the civil society, the attention on sustainability, the linguistic problem, the exchange of data and transparency. The outputs of this discussion will be used to update our Joint Statement on CBHC. The next related appointments will be in September for a webinar to present the updated draft Joint Statement and in October for the presentation of the official document.