The European Health Forum Gastein 2018  started with a discussion on how to improve health in Europe and reach the SDGs. European voters are worried about the European single market, employment policies, protection of external borders, and immigration policies – therefore a new bold direction is needed to reassure them in terms of health issues.
In a keynote speech from the EHFG president Clemens Martin it was argued that health is closely linked to wealth and despite the European advances, the success stories are closely linked to the health of the European societies. It was suggested that health needs a new narrative to face the impacts of globalisation, security and consumption.
Contributions to sustainability
According to the EHFG the health system can contribute to sustainability across Europe in at least three ways:
1) increasing labour market participation by addressing disability and chronic diseases
2) providing long-term care for chronic disease sufferers to reduce the need for informal care (carers)
3) and impacting pensions (increasing the pensionable age is not enough as people need to be healthy to be productive).
On the other hand, the health sector itself needs to understand that its mission is far beyond healthcare and science. The health of people in the EU is not only dependent on our healthcare, our healthcare workforce, research and science. The UN have started to pave the way in this regard by providing a valuable, socially-oriented model with the SDGs. Out of 17 SDGs, 12 are closely related to nutrition and health.
The goals recognise the interconnected nature of development, and promote the active involvement and partnership of all sectors and actors globally. In other words, sharing responsibility for health across sectors is crucial. Areas such as food, transport, housing, environment and education have an enormous impact on our health. All these factors play a key role in maintaining or improving the health of future generations. The WHO Regional Office for Europe is thinking big by working on a roadmap for Europe to reach its SDG targets. 
Tools needed to help citizens
At the EU level the importance of creating practical tools to help citizens tackle the obstacles that they face was emphasized. For example, the EC has organised supra-national hospital networks to take advantage of shared knowledge on rare diseases and enable patients to be supported in their home countries. However not everyone is getting equal treatment in today’s Europe, more research on this topic needs to be done. Behind the statistics we have widening inequalities, and this is the root cause of a lot of the political and social problems Europe is facing. Specific forms of assistance and tailormade interventions are needed for advancing public health in Europe.
The EHFG discusses that we are living in a defining moment for health, but we have to start thinking more like investors, thinking systematically, funding priorities in the right way, and not being prisoners of the past where old strategies may no longer serve us well. Leadership, strategy and resources are required to face the challenges. Read more in the full report here: 
Verantwortlich für den Artikeltext: [ Saskia Lackner (-sl) ]
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