Strengthening the Public Health Workforce to champion health in all policies
Prior to the 61st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, EPHA and ASPHER oganised a side event to discuss how to strengthen the Public Health Workforce to champion health in all policies.
Designed for a debate with high level officials prior to the Regional Committee, the aim of the workshop was to discuss how public health capacity building could be organised and further developed to achieve the WHO Europe Health 2020 strategy objectives.
The main objectives were to address the following questions:
How can the public health workforce become more effective in addressing all the main health challenges prevalent in Europe?
What competences and capacities are necessary? How can public health workforces increase their competencies?
What partnerships should be foreseen? What structures are necessary?
The event also included a presentation on establishing a «European Forum for Public Health Competencies and Capacity Development» aiming to oversee and validate the process of developing and refining a European system of public health competencies.
Participants debated primarily the fact that most of the determinants of health lie outside the health sector. Yet these health determinants are “core business“ for public health professionals, with specific health expertise, working in the health field to improve population health status. This implies cooperation with other sectors to put health into all policies and to reduce health inequalities; however, broad consensus on the nature and extent of the public health role is still lacking in Europe. They also recognised that the understanding of public health is not the same across all countries and that the economic crisis has put the health workforce under pressure.
Participants also mentioned the fact that health systems are still to be built in some countries of the European Region of the WHO and that should not be overlooked.
It then focused on the role of civil society organisations and the cooperation with NGOs. It was acknowledged that the cooperation needs to move beyond patients organisations and be broadened to NGOs working with specific population groups, such as women, children, people living in poverty, etc.
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