European Health Forum Gastein 2018 challenges Experts to Think Big and Make Bold Political Choices for Agenda 2030


The 21st edition of the European Health Forum Gastein, an event on the Austria EU presidency calendar, concluded on the 5th October 2018 with 600 leading health policy experts agreeing on the need to set bold political choices for health system sustainability in Europe. Experts acknowledged the necessity to avoid reversing the strides achieved in improving the health of Europeans and raised concerns about the possible impact of the 2019 European elections on Europe’s health agenda.

“Health and Sustainable Development – Bold Political Choices for Agenda 2030” was the broad theme that set the scene for forward-looking and solution-oriented discussions involving the European Commission, civil society representatives, key opinion leaders from the academic world, and private sector stakeholders from the pharmaceutical industry and beyond.

The sense that in Europe health and innovation are at a turning point featured strongly throughout the sessions. EHFG President, Dr Clemens Martin Auer, pointed out that “the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have shaped a powerful discourse that might, for the first time, withstand the dominant narratives of competitiveness, stock markets and the demand for low cost goods”.

Josep Figueras, Director of the European Observatory on Health Systems & Policies and head of the WHO European Centre on Health Policy in Brussels laid down the challenge: “Think big, be bold, be practical.”

He added that the European Single Market cannot be successful without health, and that there is therefore an imperative need for a strong health dossier at the EU-level of decision-making. He also highlighted how important it is to inspire a new, young generation of people to enter the health profession.

Participants addressed practical health problems, for instance around the challenge of ensuring a skilled workforce for health. The full programme encouraged frank discussions on more sensitive topics as well, from access to medicines and the high costs of innovative therapies, to the need to address the commercial determinants of health in addition to the economic and social determinants of health.

Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb, Secretary General of EHFG, reflecting on this year’s edition, said: “We encouraged our speakers and our participants to think big for health in Europe, to discuss bold political decisions, and to dare to image a health paradigm shift to make our systems future proof. It is inspiring to see what new ideas came about.”

   Save the date:


2 – 4 October 2019

European Health Forum Gastein

Published in GI-Mail 10/2018 (English edition). Sign up for GI-Mail here.  

Tip: More up to date educational events can be found online in the Education Database »medicine & health«.

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