European Health Forum Gastein 2019


By Agnes Kittel

Austria has many places famous about their natural beauty and it is for sure that Bad Hofgastein is among the best ones. The mountains with or without snow on their top, surround the little town, which new and older but evenly nicely decorated houses, villas and hotels, everything reveals richness and peacefulness and altogether it looks ideal place for an international conference.

For me it was the second time to attend an EHFG meeting.

When I say, this second one was much better, it does not mean, I was not satisfied with the quality of the first one. It was also very good, very well organized, too, however, this year it was special.

The title of the  22nd edition of the European Health Forum Gastein  was “A healthy dose of disruption? Transformative change for health and societal well-being” .

Reading this title, I was a bit confused at first. There are too many valuable things disruptured today, however, later I had to accept, that if something wrong, instead of mending, the best thing we can do is to disrupt/distroy it and build something new.

But what to disrupt and how to build a new system?

Naturally, a conference, even if it is an excellent one, organized and  lead by outstanding people, it cannot answer and solve every problem. However,  finding the root of the problems, grabbing the good questions, to give guiding and  support – it can be a good start for a common, coordinated work.

By now  it has became clear that the whole world has to cope with unavoidable and undeniable challenges, the  climate changes, and  the time we have is getting less. The health system is one of the main factors of CO2 emission and we have to act immediately.

Besides excellent lecturers given  by  main executives  of national and international organizations /e.g.WHO / we could listened to   representatives of NGOs  – e.g. about the treatments and care of HIV patiens, health care for immigrants, unemployments, sexworkers –  but we could hear the opinion of patients about questions under heated debates /e.g. use of medical marihuna, care of obesity/

We have to rethink a lot among our previous solutions and the effective solution demands that we have to work together.

Fortunately, the excecutives of the world leading and , and especially the representatives of the NGOs spoke about not only plans but facts and tried hard to answer questions and not  to repeat only something said before.

Finally I have  to mention the exeptional possibility of science journalists to meet the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis.  His passion for this work and his example will last much longer than his term as Commissioner which lasts only till November.

I  thank you the EHFG, EUSJA and Viola Egikova for the support to participate, and a big thank for the help obtained from the members of EHFG Press Office.

Photos: credit Agnes Kittel.

Agnes Kittel is science journalist and researcher based in Budapest.

About Viola Egikova

Viola Egikova - science journalist based in Moscow, president of Intellect, former Vice-President of the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations, Programme Coordinator of All Russia Science Festival