AHEAD Newsletter – April 2022

AHEAD Newsletter – April 2022

Watch back: online intermediate event of the EU Health Workforce Projects Cluster


Countries can address access to health inequalities in the population by improving health worker retention and task-shifting policies. So, what should these policies look like? On March 29th, the five projects of the Health Workforce Projects Cluster on the EU Health Policy Platform – including AHEAD – presented the first results of their research during their second webinar on ‘Fighting access to health inequalities by improving health worker retention and task shifting policies’.

On behalf of AHEAD, Mirela Mustata and Dana Farcasanu from the Center for Health Policies and Services (CHPS) presented the findings of our literature review on a multidimensional definition of medical deserts. This definition will be the basis of AHEAD’s research on identifying medical deserts and the Medical Deserts Diagnostics Tool (currently in development).

‘’What we discovered during the literature review stage was the variability of terms that are used to indicate medical deserts and the complexity behind this apparently simple concept. Yet, it became clear that two aspects are key when one indicates whether an area is a medical desert or not: low density of health services in certain areas as compared to population characteristics and needs and physical distance to the health care services that are available. From this starting point, different avenues of research are open: which levels of health care to consider in each country (primary care, emergency, specialized care, what types of specialized care), how to better define population needs, what is the referral point, how to measure distance, how to test and validate the solution? ‘’

Mirela Mustata, researcher

Did you miss the webinar? You can watch it back HERE

Upcoming participation in European Health Management Association (EHMA) in June

On June 15-17, 2022, the European Health Management Association’s (EHMA) Annual Conference 2022 – with the theme ‘From people to systems: leadership for a sustainable future’ – will take place in Brussels, Belgium. The conference will bring together key healthcare stakeholders providing the latest evidence on ways to transform health systems. The conference provides opportunities for health managers and health professionals to have their voices heard, to connect with decision-makers, and inform policymaking at the European level.

On behalf of AHEAD, Mirela Mustata (CHPS) will present our literature review findings on a multidimensional definition of medical deserts.

Would you like to attend the conference? Please register on EHMA’s website

1 year anniversary AHEAD

This year’s World Health Day 2022 – April 7th – marked AHEAD’s 1st anniversary!

Our first year has been exciting, with many activities and developments which should lay a solid foundation for our project. For example, based on the contexts of the countries AHEAD focuses on, we have been working on a multidimensional definition of medical deserts, conducting qualitative research with stakeholders and collecting quantitative data. In our second year (starting in April 2022), we will implement our draft consensus-building methodology, and design policy options for policy makers to possibly implement in their countries.

We are also excited about finalizing our ‘medical desert maps’ (for our Medical Deserts Diagnostics Tool), which will provide an overview of the locations of medical deserts in the AHEAD focus countries. Stay tuned for more exciting developments AHEAD!

AHEAD-Media Education Centre, Obilicev venac 21, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Copyright © 2021 AHEAD, all rights reserved

AHEAD Newsletter – April 2022

AHEAD Newsletter – February 2022

Save the date: Webinar on fighting access to health inequalities by improving health worker retention and task shifting policies on March 29

On March 29th, 2022 (2:30-4:30 PM Brussels time), the Health Workforce Projects Cluster will organise its second webinar. During the webinar ‘Fighting access to health inequalities by improving health worker retention and task shifting policies’, the five Cluster projects will share their progress so far, focusing on the findings from literature review and applying varying methodologies that the projects are implementing. Mirela Mustata and Dana Farcasanu (Centre for Health Policies and Services, Bucharest) will present findings on behalf of the AHEAD project.

Besides the speakers from each project, the Cluster also invited several external speakers. The webinar will be opened by Miklós Szócska – Director, Semmelweis University, Health Services Management Training Centre and Andrzej Rys – Director Health systems, medical products and innovation, DG SANTE, European Commission. The keynote speakers will be Sarada Das, from Standing Committee of European Doctors, who will present their updated workforce strategy, followed by Heather L. Rogers, (Biocruces Bizkaia Heath Research Institute) with an intervention on the mental health opinion of the Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health.

We are also excited to hear reflections from Ber Oomen, Executive Director of ESNO (European Specialist Nurses Organisation).

Maya Matthews, Head of Unit Performance of Health Systems, DG SANTE, will conclude and close the webinar, with some reflections from DG SANTE.

The Health Workforce Projects Cluster consists of five EU co-funded projects under the umbrella of the 3rd Health Programme. The projects focus on three key topics – medical deserts, task shifting and retention policies:

  • 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

With this exciting agenda, we hope you will join us on the 29th of March!
Please follow this link to register for the webinar.

On March 1st, 2022, the OASES project will organise its first anniversary webinar on ‘the role of health workforce data to identify medical deserts’. Please visit OASES’ website for more information and registration.

AHEAD: in full research mode

From autumn 2021 onwards, the AHEAD partners have been busy conducting the in-country research and engaging with their stakeholders in project countries.

This stakeholder engagement is aimed at learning about the lived experiences of affected communities and health workers in medical deserts areas. This will help us validate our working definition of medical deserts that we developed earlier in 2021:

“Medical deserts imply the inability of a given population (and / or a population group) to access health services, or the state of isolation when it comes to receiving health services, based on three categories of quantitative and qualitative barriers (‘dimensions’), which are interrelated and dependent on each other, in varying degrees and modalities.”

These barriers are: (1) physical barriers, (2) social barriers and (3) policy barriers. Read more on our website.

Furthermore, we will be circulating surveys and conducting focus group discussions in spring this year.  If you are working in remote areas or are interested to find out more about AHEAD’s research, please get in touch via the contact us form on the AHEAD website.


What we’re reading

Lots of new publications on medical deserts and health workforce reforms are being published every day. Have a look at the list below to see what we’re reading!

Australian Journal of Rural Health – relevant for our research on medical deserts: Australian Journal of Rural Health: Vol 29, No 5

A Doctor’s Tour de France, One ‘Medical Desert’ at a Time’ – New York Times article (note: from August 2021)

State of Health in the EU: companion report 2021 – Project country reports: for Netherlands, Italy, Romania

Health workforce protection and preparedness during the COVID-19 pandemic: a tool for the rapid assessment of EU health systems

CPME’s new policy on health workforce (November 2021), to be presented by Sarada Das during the March 29 webinar

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AHEAD-Media Education Centre, Obilicev venac 21, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Copyright © 2021 AHEAD, all rights reserved

AHEAD Newsletter – April 2022

AHEAD Newsletter – December 2021

Medical Deserts Network update

It is now possible to sign up for the Medical Deserts Network (MDN). Becoming a member of this network – the first of its kind in Europe – means getting access to the prototype version of Medical Deserts Diagnostics Tool, invitations to health workforce and medical deserts-related webinars, workshop results, policy briefs, and other communication products.

With this network, we want to provide a common space where stakeholders from all AHEAD partner countries, policymakers and interested parties from the European Commission and other EU countries can learn from each other and share knowledge and information on medical deserts and health workforce policy.




OASES Conference, December 10th

On December 10th, Corinne Hinlopen, global health advocate at Wemos, presented the project Action for Health and Equity Addressing medical Deserts (AHEAD) at an online EU-wide conference, attended by over 60 researchers, health professionals and policy makers, including from the Directorate-General SANTE. The lively engagement with the audience provided additional inspiration for the project partners. The conference was organised to showcase the three European Commission funded projects on medical deserts that have started during 2021.

To read more on this, please visit OASES Conference News!

An update on the research

Collection of relevant indicators for the identification of medical deserts in Italy, Moldova, the Netherlands, Romania and Serbia is on-going. This will result in more maps in the Medical Deserts Diagnostic Tool in the near future.

In a next phase, we will add contextual information about the countries’ health systems to the tool. The first half year of 2022 will be dedicated to holding interviews and Focus Group Discussions with key stakeholders, such as affected communities, health professionals and local and national policy makers. Stay tuned for updates!

AHEAD is reading/watching:

  • State of Health in the EU: Companion report 2021 (find HERE)
  • State of Health in the EU: Country Health Profiles (find HERE)
  • The recording of the launch webinar of the State of Health in the EU reports (find HERE and USE PASSWORD @HPP_webinar2021
  • WHO guideline on health workforce development, attraction, recruitment and retention in rural and remote areas (find HERE)
  • WHO Health labour market analysis guidebook (find HERE)

Season’s greetings

The AHEAD team wishes you safe & happy holidays and a healthy 2022!
We look forward to seeing you in the new year!

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AHEAD-Media Education Centre, Obilicev venac 21, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Copyright © 2021 AHEAD, all rights reserved