On 19th April, the European Commission hosted the 2023 EU Health Policy Platform (HPP) Annual Meeting. This was a hybrid event, with participants gathered in Luxembourg as well as online. Stefan Schreck, Advisor for Stakeholder Relations in DG Sante, opened the meeting by highlighting the aim of the HPP as a dedicated space for inclusive and transparent collaboration between health stakeholders and the EU. The HPP, created in 2016, is currently structured around the 4 thematic areas of discrimination, infectious disease (HIV, TB, hepatitis, STIs), artificial intelligence and mental health in all policies. Schreck highlighted how these thematic areas will be become established as formal stakeholder networks moving forward.
The morning included presentations from each thematic network, followed by a response from EU representatives and Q&A session. DisQo anti-discrimination & health equity network was represented by Raymond Gemen from the European Public Health Alliance. Approximately 40 organisations are currently involved in this network, including EPHA, ASPHER and EASO. Gemen presented the network’s 5 priority areas, which include; increasing recognition of discrimination as key health determinant, increasing social participation of marginalized groups and the promotion of intersectoral collaboration. The deadline for endorsement of this call is 17th May.
The other notable presentation was given by Francesca Centola from Mental Health Europe, on mental health in all policies. Centola called for a ‘comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach’ to mental health. Action must be focused on identifying win-win situations, with broader understanding of determinants and holistic prevention efforts essential. The strong link of physical and mental health was clearly highlighted (particularly regarding the bidirectional impacts between obesity and mental health), with physical activity playing an important role in this work. As one of the founding members of the European Physical Activity Alliance, EuropeActive strongly believes in the power of cross-sectoral collaboration and the role of physical activity as a key contributor to mental health.
During the afternoon, focus turned to evaluation of the HPP. Andrea Kobilsky (Tetra Tech) presented initial study findings, revealing approximately 6,000 users from different sectors now engage with the platform. Membership to HPP was perceived as enhancing organisational visibility, networking, advocacy and increasing regular interaction with the Commission. The session then concluded with small breakout groups to gain further feedback on the HPP, before participants regrouped for a final plenary.