Report on Gastein 2013: EHFF gives its overview of the annual Health Policy conference which took place October 2-4

Report on Gastein 2013: EHFF gives its overview of the annual Health Policy conference which took place October 2-4


“Over the past decade the European Health Forum Gastein has developed into an indispensable institution in the scope of European health policy. It has made a decisive contribution to the development of guidelines and above all the cross-border exchange of experience, information and cooperation.

The overall aim is a platform for discussion for the various stakeholders in the field of public health and health care.

About 600 leading experts participate in the annual conference held in the Gastein Valley in Austria in October. The unparalleled mix of participants including leading country- and EU-level representatives from the areas of health policy, administration, science, business and patient organisations, are especially critical to the success of this event.

The EUROPEAN HEALTH FORUM GASTEIN (EHFG) was founded in 1998 as a European health policy conference with the aim of providing a platform for discussion for the various stakeholders in the field of public health and health care. Since then the EHFG has developed into a key annual event, bringing together,
politicians, senior decision-makers, representatives of interest groups, and experts coming from government and administration, business and industry, civil society and science and academia. These four groups of stakeholders with their perspectives constitute the four pillars of the EHFG.

The EHFG further considers the vertical organisation of societies and the EU by integrating regional, national, European and international levels and thus facilitating the exchange of views and experience amongst key actors and experts from the 27 EU members and the EEA countries, but also from the rest of the 52 countries of the WHO European region. Launched with major financial support from the European Commission, subsequent events have grown with the continued and extended co-operation of Commission services. In that regard the Forum can be considered as a pilot project and benchmark for any Commission civil society consultation process.

The Young Forum Gastein initiative is a joint project of the International Forum Gastein, the European Commission Directorate Generals SANCO (Health and Consumers) and CONNECT (Communications Networks, Content and Technology) and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. It is aimed at young researchers and officials from Member States of the European Union and beyond who work in the field of health.

The purpose of the initiative is to introduce promising young decision-makers and experts to the Gastein process – bridging the gap between research and policy-making and facilitating learning and networking.

In the first year (2007), 34 Young Forum Gasteiners attended the EHFG. The EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Mr. Markos Kyprianou, welcomed the Young Forum Gasteiners at the conference. In 2013, 75 young researchers and officials working in the field of health from Member States of the European Union and beyond were invited to attend the 16th EHFG. Scholarships were supported by the European Commission (DG Health and Consumers and DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology), the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, and the International Forum Gastein. For the first time we welcomed a number of NGO representatives, as well as two scholars who won places at Young Gastein through their participation at the European Forum Alpbach Summer School on European Health Care and Social Systems. We also cooperated once again with the Management Centre Innsbruck (MCI) to welcome eight students from their MSc in International Health and Social Management who enjoyed increased participation in Young Gastein activities this year’’ (EHFG website).


Themes of Gastein 2012 and 2013

2012: The conference theme was:- ‘EHFG 2009 discussed “Financial crisis and Health” as European economies entered recession. We concluded that “policy leadership” and “resilience” of communities would be required to steer through the financial and debt crisis. Recession has endured and is deepening in many parts of Europe with new evidence of its impact on health and health systems. In response, austerity measures and budget cuts have been introduced to restore economic stability.

The plenaries will consider these questions:

• How are policymakers taking into account the health consequences of their responses to the financial crisis?

• What will austerity mean for the future health of Europe’s citizens?

• Are we pursuing policies that will achieve sustained improvements in both health and economic growth?’

The main interest for EHFF in terms of its mission was the parallel session on Public Health 2050. Here are four presentations:

Prof Andy Haines: LSHTM: environment and 2050 (download presentation)

Prof Jay Olshansky: Univ. Illinois: society in 2050 (download presentation)

Michael Borowitz: OECD: what we can afford in 2050 (download presentation)

Hans Kluge: WHO-Europe: health systems in 2050 (download presentation)


2013: The conference theme was:- ‘The future development of health and health systems will be the core of this year’s EHFG. We aim to build on last year’s topic of Health in an Age of Austerity by taking the discussion further and asking:

‘What are the key strategies to make health systems resilient?’

‘What are the most important innovations to promote health system performance and resilience?’

‘How can decision makers best introduce and implement these innovations?’

To get a flavour of the ambience of the meeting, here are two daily ‘gazettes’ from the meeting (A. Gastein_Gazette_Day_1),( B.Gastein_Gazette_Day_2 ). For more detail, see the EHFG website:

EHFF’s choice of presentations, based on its mission, from 2013:-

Opening plenary: Prof Brandt, Maastricht Univ., also currently the Gastein Forum President, reiterated the key questions (download presentation)

Prof Uwe Reinhardt: Princeton Univ.; gave the keynote speech ‘bailing out healthcare through innovation’. Quite entertaining! (download presentation)

Barriers to patient-centred care (based on the DAWN2 project –looking at needs and attitudes of patients with diabetes): highly relevant to the forthcoming project on self-management in chronic diseases. (download presentation)

Equally relevant was the lunchtime session from EPPOSI on their Eurobarometer study of consumer perceptions of self-care. (download presentation)

The treatment of the resilience theme was rather disappointing (download presentation) but there was a solid presentation from Zsuzsanna Jakab, of WHO-Europe (download presentation).

There were three fringe workshops of note:

‘shaping a health literate Europe – a recipe for sustainable healthcare’ hosted jointly by CPME, EPF, HLS-MU and MSD’ (download presentation)

‘patient involvement’ (hosted by EPF; no copy of presentation)

And an EHMA presentation on outcome variation in hospital treatment, the ECHO project. (download presentation)

DS 28.10.13



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