Health Policy Making, a (eu-)regional perspective on participatory approach

Wed 9, October 2019
09:15 - 10:45 CET

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) a Health in all Policies (HiAP) approach contributes to sustainable development. Including health in structural development is a precondition for economie prosperity. People's health influences economic outcomes in terms of productivity, labour supply, human capital and public spending.

In addition to this, regional authorities in border areas face problems related to the often-hampered structural development of these regions. The peripheral location of these areas and the differences in legislation between countries hinder free movement of labour and services and lead to disadvantages in economic, social and cultural development. Furthermore, citizens are limited in their choice of and accessibility to healthcare and there is less opportunity for cooperation in the healthcare market. 30% of all Europeans live in border areas.

Adopting participatory approaches (PA) - which is key also in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - means that innovative ways must be found to reach out to every single citizen, leaving no one behind. Technical discussions among policy and decision makers, should be complemented with constructive and empowering dialogues with all stakeholders, also citizens.

The questions addressed:

  • How can a PA contribute to an efficient use of the regional and cross border health care infrastructure?
  • How can the involvement of citizens in a PA benefit the citizen, the professional and the policy maker?
  • How can you scale up regional structural development toa  cross border setting?
  • How does a PA effect structural development?
  • What are lessons learned from use of the PA in relation to structural development?

The topics presented:

  • The Trento example: health policy making using the PA for structural development (IT).
  • Lessons learned using the PA for structural development in primary health care in Flanders (BE).
    Both topics are based on a publication issued by the WHO Regions for Health Network (WHO RHN).
  • Cross border policy making: how to use Citizen Summits for this (EMR), based on summits that were part of the WHO RHN -CoR Conference in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR).
  • Cross border structural development regarding senior friendly communities: realisation via the PA (EMR), a project that was published by WHO in a good practice brief.
Francesco Zambon, Coordinator of WHO Regions for Health Network, World Health Organization European Office for Investment for Health and Development, Italy.
Pirous Fateh Moghadam, Head of the Health Observatory, Health and social policy Department, Autonomous Province of Trento, Italy.
Mignon Schichel, Researcher, Maastricht University/Alzheimer Centrum Limburg, Netherlands.
Francesco Zambon, Coordinator of WHO Regions for Health Network, World Health Organization European Office for Investment for Health and Development, Italy.
Marleen van Dijk, Communication Officer, Flanders Agency for Care and Health, Belgium.
Brigitte van der Zanden, Director, euPrevent|EMR, Netherlands.
A Europe Closer to Citizen
euPrevent | EMR Foundation
English (EN)
310 (circle 3).
Address: Mont des Arts, 1000 Brussels

Session summary

After a warm word of welcome, the moderator, Mr Zambon of the WHO Regions for Health Network, presented briefly the well-known Sustainable Development Goals and outlined in an inspiring way how action is needed, from local to global level and from all stakeholders, in order to leave no-one behind. Because "what you do FOR us, WITHOUT us, is not FOR us"!

Mr Fateh-Moghadam, Head of the Health Observatory of the province of Trento, Italy, prepared a video presentation which remains available via this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYSo0aQiEvw. He explains how the Italian Trentino region set up a health plan, actively using a participatory approach. They made a special effort to leave no one behind and had a midterm evaluation in order to be able to have input from all subgroups of the Trentino population. In this process they gained a lot of good input from their citizens which was included in the final plan.

Ms Geenen of the support office of the euPrevent Foundation, who replaced Ms Schichel of Maastricht University, guided the audience through the project euPrevent Senior Friendly Communities and explained how the participatory approach was implemented at all levels: during the development of the project (different elderly groups were consulted); within the structure of the project (a citizen organisation is a project partner); within the assessments (mystery guests approached the communities and gave feedback); within the implementation (communities were urged to let citizens participate actively).

Ms Van der Zanden, director of the euPrevent Foundation, presented two citizen summits that were held in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR) to ask for input from the citizens on the topics: equity, participatory approach and human resources for health. These 3 topics were also addressed in the WHO RHN – CoR conference that was held in the EMR in June 2019. By asking for input from the citizens prior to the event, the voice of the citizen was incorporated in the event for professionals.

Ms van Dijk of the Flanders Agency for Care and Health, explained how the Flanders region worked out a new primary health care plan, together with all stakeholders, using a participatory approach on all levels. She showed how, by going slow in the beginning and involving all stakeholders, the commitment towards the plan grows. This way the implementation is supported by a bigger group of stakeholders.

Take away message

Involve citizens into policy development as real experts, on all levels. Not as an extra, as a real asset. That requires time, budget and above all a clear vision on who needs to be involved and how. If necessary, hire an expert organisation, such as EPECS, to help you implement a participatory approach. If you do not set it up in a fundamental way, you will not be able to use the outcome sufficiently and loose citizens’ involvement.

P. Fateh-Moghadam: ‘Make sure you leave no one behind. Track who you are reaching with your participatory approach and make a special effort, if necessary, to reach those left behind.’

A. Geenen: “Participatory approach is not something you do as an aside. It should be a fundamental decision and is part of every level of your plan or project.”

M. van Dijk: ‘It seems that a participatory approach takes a lot of time. That is true, but it also gains a lot of support in the long run.’

Ms van der Zanden: "Make sure that – when you present a project idea or initiative with the topics potential partners are keen on – you incorporate the participatory approach. Make it a “package deal”. By doing so the participatory approach will always be included, meaning: the citizens will always be involved."

F. Zambon: “Action is needed in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. But ‘what you do FOR us, WITHOUT us is not FOR us'. So, always use a participatory approach.”

This is Your session – comment and interact!
Add your comments regarding to this session!
Any comment not related to the session itself will be ignored and deleted.
  • Posted by: Jolien Roovers
    On: 03/10/2019 - 13:13pm

    waiting list

    Good morning, I would like to attend this session. I was wondering if there is a waiting list. Thanks in advance.
    • Posted by: An Geenen
      On: 03/10/2019 - 13:29pm

      no waiting list

      Hallo Jolien Roovers, Thank you very much for your interest in our session. There is no waiting list and we still have some seats available in the room, so please feel free to join us. You should ofcourse be registered for the event, in order to access the Week of Regions and Cities. For more information on that matter, please contact the secretariat. Kind Regards, An Geenen.