Dancing with Elephants at the 23rd EHFG Conference

© Floris Oudshoorn

The European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) is delighted to announce its 23rd EHFG conference, which will take place from 30 September to 2 October 2020 in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.

Under the theme of Dancing with elephants – New partnerships for health, democracy, business’, the EHFG will address the fact that determinants of health and well-being are often driven by the narrow interests of big players. In order to engage with these giants and safeguard the interests of people and patients, it is necessary to devise potentially difficult new partnership models – “dancing with elephants”.

Critical questions are necessary: how can we rebalance shifts in decision-making power and momentum for innovation away from small politico-economic circles? Can we learn from disruptive business models and social entrepreneurship? Should all stakeholders sit at the table across divides in political ideologies, interests and values, or is there a line to be drawn in who we are willing to partner with and when? One could even provocatively question whether our current democratic systems, which encourage action around four-year electoral cycles, are fit to act effectively on complex long-term challenges such as NCDs or the climate crisis.

Many of the ‘elephants’ sit at a complicated nexus of economic, political and social agendas, such as balancing the influence of powerful commercial operators and lobbies against public health interests; tackling the devastating ecological and social effects of the climate crisis; preventing healthcare fraud and corruption; halting the advance of antimicrobial resistance; harnessing the disruptive effects of digitalisation; addressing high-priced medicines while championing needs-driven innovation; and understanding the forces behind the recent surge of populism and their effects on health policy.

Addressing political and commercial determinants of health in tandem is crucial in this context, and will necessitate political will to regulate, form intersectoral partnerships, and adopt a whole of society approach. To effect systemic change that deals with the root causes of wicked problems and to create the transformation we want to see, we need the right partners and the right rhythm – and we have to be accommodating of each other´s strengths and limitations.

Therefore, join the EHFG 2020 conference and help to reconceptualise approaches that are standing in the way of progress. Let’s learn a new dance!

The Call for Proposals is now open and can be found on the EHFG website. Should you wish to become a partner and you would like to contribute to sessions that inspire future-facing solutions and bring forward candid debates to challenge the status quo, please submit your first draft.

More information on the upcoming EHFG conference will be shared within the next weeks and months. News will be frequently shared on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.

Published in GI-Mail 02/2020 (English edition).

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