On 31 May 2022, EuroHealthNet organized its annual summit, focusing this year on raising awareness about investing in wellbeing and health equity for young and old.
In his opening remarks, Mr Toma Sutic, Member of the Cabinet of the European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, highlighted the importance of “never wasting a good crisis”. Indeed, crises also bring opportunities to tackle inequalities. Mentioning the Green Paper on Ageing – Fostering Solidarity and Responsibility Between Generations, Mr Sutic emphasized the importance of working on healthy ageing within the EU. Subsequently, Prof. Silvio Brusaferro, Coordinator of the Joint Action on Health Equity in Europe, emphasised the importance of prioritising the reduction of health inequities. Health systems should be improved as well as guaranteeing the same opportunities to promote individuals’ health and wellbeing.
The first panel addressed wellbeing in childhood and adolescents. Prof. Terje Andreas Eikemo, leader of the Centre for Global Health Inequalities Research, highlighted the importance of considering health inequalities in a global context with global challenges e.g. climate change, pandemics, political priorities. Environments, for instance, can be unsafe and particularly impacted by climate change. Furthermore, children and adolescents’ mental health is now a growing concern as a consequence of COVID. There needs to be a nuanced approach to grasp the complexity of health inequalities which should be communicated to decision makers. Prof. Didier Jourdan, UNESCO Chair on Global Health and Education, then highlighted that school health programmes are most efficient and cost-effective, such as the ones focusing on physical activity promotion and fruit supply. Prof. Jourdan underlined the estimation that 1€ invested represents 5-8€ saved on health expenses.
Lastly, the third panel focused on prioritizing public investments for healthy and active ageing. Ms Gemma Williams, Research Fellow at the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, explained that the health of the workforce matters, as studies show that a healthy older labour force is not associated with slower economic growth. That is why promoting active and healthy ageing is particularly important. Ms Susanna Ulinski, Policy Officer at DG EMPL, explained that the Commission is developing several tools to promote active and healthy ageing at the EU level.
In her concluding remarks, Ms Tatjana Buzeti, Policy Officer at the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development, affirmed that different factors determine health. Efforts to enhance health are not costs but core investments, and such investments should be made. Finally, Ms Caroline Costongs, EuroHealthNet Director, stated that the economy of wellbeing brings a vision of hope. The wellbeing of individuals should be considered alongside the planet’s wellbeing.
You can find the report for the seminar here