Between the 8th and the 10th of December Marie, the European General Assistant, and me attended the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) Professional Development Program in Brussels, Belgium. The EPHA is an European non-governmental organization that aims to be a platform in which health-related European NGOs can work together towards the improvement of health in this region and in the world. IFMSA is a member of the EPHA since 2012.
Why this workshop? Well, we wish you could have been there with us!
In the first day we started talking about the EPHA’s Pharma4Health campaign (that IFMSA supported), which aimed to reversion the Juncker’s Team (the European Commission team) decision of moving medicines and biotechnologies responsibility from the Directorate General of Health (DG SANCO) to the Enterprise one, which could have lead to a lack of consciousness and awareness of the importance of these products for the access for health, at the same time the companies working on this area would have a greater lobby power. Thankfully, this campaign was quite successful, with the confirmation that medicines remain under DG SANCO’s responsibility and it seems that biotechnology will remain as well. Throughout the discussion, we’ve learnt a lot of good practices that will certainly be shared afterwards.
Afterwards, we had a really good presentation from OXFAM, another NGO that fights against inequality in the world, which showed us a bit their “Even it up!” campaign. OXFAM works a lot on providing data that shows the economic negative side of economic extreme inequalities. They also work and access to health and education, since they believe these are the two main social pillars, which without the inequality will remain as a vicious cycle. For that, they fight for the health systems’ fees removal, struggle for access to medicines, lobby against the negative side of TTIP and they inclusively build hospitals in low-income countries.
We began the second day talking about several European media strategies; who to tackle, what they do like, what they dislike, how to reach them; etc. For instance, we learnt that the more impactful media entities in Europe are the European Voice paper, the euractiv.com website and the Financial Times Magazine. We also discussed best practices when writing press releases, which might be very useful in the future. After we had another really good workshop by EPHA, presenting their EU Alcohol Policy strategy. This was presented as a case study to convey very important contents about designing campaign and strategic advocacy planning that goes very in line with the needs of our region and our members. At the end of the day we were presented by the Scottish Health Action on Health Alcohol problems the Scotland Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland. This was a movement started to implement a minimum price for alcoholic beverages in Scotland, after being shown by evidence that low-income communities we’re abusing on alcohol consumption due to some brands very low prices. After a lot of national struggles, they got this measure approved in Scotland and now they are trying to implement this in the EU and its member states.
At last, in the third day, we discussed a lot was is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an agreement that is being negotiated between the USA and the EU and that have a broad impact on economy and society and, consequently, on health. Specifically, we talked about the potential negative impact of TTIP on the access to healthcare by the EU citizens, as well as the relation with the consumers rights since it might affect food and agriculture trade standards. In the afternoon, we took part of a guided tour through the European Parliament, where we could better understand how do the European Political decisions happen.
We hope that this workshop has brought a lot of information and content that hopefully will help us designing even better the European Advocacy Strategy that we are working in.
As usual, keep tuned!
Alberto Abreu da Silva, Regional Coordinator for Europe 2014-2015