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

Moldova – National School of Public Health Management

The Netherlands – VU Athena Institute

The Netherlands – Wemos

Romania – Center for Health Policies and Services

Serbia – Media Education Center

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