European Health Policy Mountain Retreat Event Goes Global

By Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb, Secretary-General of the European Health Forum Gastein

For more than 20 years, every October, around 500 leading health experts from governmental institutions, civil society, the academic world, and the private sector meet up at the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG). They meet to discuss Europe’s contemporary health challenges and address pressing issues around the sustainability of European health systems in a Davos like setting, in the presence of Ministers of Health and senior European Commission and WHO officials. This year’s edition of the EHFG, called simply “Gastein” by the cognoscente, is an official Austrian EU Presidency event. Over the three days, Gastein is not going to shy away from the big European political debates such as how much of a role Europe should play in shaping health policy; but also it is going to take on some of the big global health policy challenges.

The Sustainable Development Goals will be on the menu, with more calls for bold political choices to realise the targets of Agenda 2030, the usual hot potatoes  “Innovative Medicines for the good of all” and “IP: Barrier or Creator of Sustainable Healthcare?”. Some new angles on global health are also on the agenda, including a plenary seeking to explore how to strike a balance between global health priorities and commercial and economic interests.  Until recently, the role of global capital flows and their impact on health was largely absent from public health debates. However, given that a significant share of the global food, beverage and tobacco industries are owned by institutional investors, it is arguably time for the public health community to step up and address issues around the responsibility of investors in relation to the commercial determinants of health.

Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb

The global health personalities at Gastein include: Bronwyn King, CEO of Tobacco Free Portfolios from Australia, Ilona Kickbusch, Director of the Global Health Centre and adjunct professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Sir Michael Marmot, Professor at the Institute of Health Equity, Ameet Sarpatwari from the Harvard Medical School, Fabrice Murtin from the OECD, Nora Kronig Romero Ambassador for Global Health, Head of International Affairs Division, from the Federal Office for Public Health, Switzerland and Dheepa Rajan from the World Health Organization.

According to EHFG President Dr Clemens Martin Auer, the “EHFG offers a safe space for controversial debates and thought experiments around today’s health challenges”. The EHFG will take place from 3-5 October in Bad Hofgastein (Austria) and Health Policy Watch will be there to report on discussions.

For more information about the programme, please visit the website.


Image Credits: EHFG, EHFG.