Europe is struggling with its health workforce, with challenges such as health worker shortages and an uneven distribution. Coordinated efforts to strengthen the health workforce in Europe are therefore urgently needed. To support EU Member States in strengthening their health workforce, tools, methods and practices are necessary; this should lead to strategic EU health workforce planning and strategic human resources management. These were some of the key messages from the official launch of the EU Health Workforce Projects Cluster on Monday September 20, 2021. The organisations involved in five EU co-funded projects– AHEAD, METEOR, OASES, TaSHI and ROUTE-HWF – also introduced their projects on health worker retention policies, mitigating medical deserts and task shifting.
Opening speakers Dr Andrzej Rys (Director, Health systems, medical products and innovation, DG SANTE, European Commission) and Miklós Szócska (Director, Health Services Management Training Centre, Semmelweis University) highlighted the importance of investing in the health workforce and health systems, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The EU Health Workforce Projects Cluster provides the perfect opportunity to share knowledge and (learning) experiences. Dr Rys announced that the European Commission is planning a new Joint Action starting in 2022, focusing on adapting allocation needs, reform of allocation system, and continuous professional development, to equip health workers with critical skills.
In addition, the organisations in the EU Health Workforce Projects Cluster presented their projects:
- Action for Health and Equity – Addressing Medical Deserts: AHEAD
- MEnTal hEalth: fOcus on Retention of healthcare workers: METEOR
- prOmoting evidence-bASed rEformS: OASES
- Empowering EU health policies on Task SHIfting: TaSHI
- A Roadmap OUT of mEdical deserts into supportive Health WorkForce initiatives and policies: ROUTE-HWF
In case you missed it, you can watch the recording of the event via this link (password: 3Gqd9nv4).
If you are interested in joining the Health Workforce Projects Cluster as an expert or stakeholder, please register on the EU Health Policy Platform, and request to join the Cluster Network.
AHEAD Newsletter – October 2021
Welcome to our first newsletter
We are happy to introduce you to the first newsletter edition of the EU project Action for Health and Equity: Addressing medical Deserts (AHEAD)! As a subscriber, you will receive bi-monthly updates about our projects regarding our research, new communication tools, upcoming webinars, and more.
AHEAD aims to reduce health inequalities by addressing medical deserts and medical desertification in Europe. Medical deserts are isolated or depopulated areas with significant health workforce shortages, which exacerbate health inequalities, especially among vulnerable groups. Our goal is to achieve better access to health services, especially in underserved areas, and more equitable access to sufficient, skilled and motivated health workers, starting with the countries involved in our project: Italy, Moldova, the Netherlands, Romania and Serbia. From April 2021-May 2023, we – the six AHEAD partner organisations – will provide tools to policy makers so they can make their health workforce policy more effective. We are excited to take up this challenge!
Visit our website to read more about our activities, upcoming results, and recent news!
News about the Health Workforce Projects Cluster
The AHEAD is part of the Health Workforce Projects Cluster, a network that aims to provide tools and guidelines and improve sharing of best practices with which Member States can design and implement their policies related to health workforce retention, task-shifting and tackling regional medical deserts. In this network, besides AHEAD, there are four other EU co-funded projects that will investigate three key topics in the coming years: medical deserts, task shifting and retention policies.
To address these challenging issues, it is essential that key stakeholders contribute to the policy dialogue. If you are interested in joining this network as an expert or stakeholder, please register on the EU Health Policy Platform, and request to join the Cluster Network .
Blogs on medical deserts
A perfect storm for the European health workforce
“Medical deserts often also lack access to other essential public services such as education and public transportation, and suffer from higher unemployment and greater economic vulnerability than other parts of the country. This affects the overall well-being of its communities and contributes to a generalised perception of being left behind. The societal impact of neglected regions is therefore much greater than merely the impact on health and well-being.” says Corinne Hinlopen from Wemos, in her blog published on the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) website.
Have a read to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the perfect storm for key decision makers to come up with a stronger and more resilient health systems of the future, with health workers at its core.
Medical deserts – a growing problem across Europe
“Unless concerted action is taken now, medical deserts will become a common feature of the European health landscape over the next years. For the time being, neither Europe nor the Member States are efficient enough to reverse this deplorable trend. What is urgently needed is a thorough dusting of policies and attitudes to ensure Europe’s health workforce doesn’t get stuck with its head in the sand.”
In another blog on the EPHA website, Dr Jean-Paul Zerbib (Fédération Europeéene des Médecins Salariés, EPHA Treasurer) and Sascha Marschang (Deputy Director EPHA) describe how medical deserts develop in the EU, and what needs to be done to tackle them. Read more here.
Meet the partners
The AHEAD consortium consists of six partner organisations from five countries. Please visit their websites via the links below to read more about each organisation.
Italy – Cittadinanzattiva
The Netherlands – VU Athena Institute
The Netherlands – Wemos
Romania – Center for Health Policies and Services
Serbia – Media Education Center
AHEAD-Media Education Centre, Obilicev venac 21, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
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