The Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER) held its annual Deans’ and Directors’ Retreat at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands 23-24 May 2013. The theme of this year’s event was the professionalization and shaping of the European public health workforce. The Lancet Report on Health Professionals for a New Century set the stage for the discussion among representatives of key public health professional entities (i.e., European Union of Medical Specialists, European Federation of Nurses Associations, International Union of Health Promotion and Education), policymakers, and representatives of European schools of public health. The example of formal certification and licensing of public health professionals in the UK was used as a case in point.
The advancement of the public health workforce was discussed and analyzed in light of global issues currently facing public health as well as the implications for public health education and training. The work ASPHER recently started as lead of WHO’s European Public Health Operation (EPHO) 7 on the professionalization of the public health workforce was also featured.
Event attendees came from almost all ASPHER member institutions, including associate members from Canada, Mexico and Australia, in addition to representatives of the European Commission, WHO Europe, and some key stakeholder public health organizations.
As people live longer and non-communicable diseases and chronic conditions increase, shifts in healthcare systems are needed that place patients and their families at its center, invest in health literacy, and offer disadvantaged groups access to care and support. These trends, themes, and innovations will be explored at the Careum Congress 2014, which is also the 2nd European Network on Patient Empowerment (ENOPE) conference.
Two hundred and fifty leaders in medical education in the Netherlands organized a one-day conference on 4 April 2013 to chart the future of health professional education reforms. The Lancet Commission report was highlighted as the benchmark for deliberation.
Keynote addresses by Dr. Lincoln Chen, president of the China Medical Board and co-chair of the Lancet Commission, and Maastrich Medical School Dean Albert Scherpbier opened the conference, held at the Amsterdam Free University Medical Center. The event marked the successful accreditation of all eight medical schools in the Netherlands, which is pioneering many innovations—competency-based, IT-facilitated, and team-based transformative learning for leadership development.
A follow-up consultation the next day grappled with how to carry forward educational reform in the rapidly growing field of global health. Hosted by Professor Joep Lange of the Global Health Institute of Amsterdam University Medical Center and moderated by Dr. Ok Pannenborg, formerly of the World Bank, the 10-member group examined the knowledge base of global health, recent pedagogic innovations for excellence, and how to pursue transformative learning for global health leadership. These three themes were suggested by Dr. Tim Evans, dean of BRAC University’s School of Public Health, who was also a Lancet report Commissioner, and Dr. Chen.
Dutch participants agreed to reconvene as a network of global health partnership for advancing leadership by starting in the Netherlands with mass open online courses (MOOCs) in global health education. Rotterdam offered to host a follow-up working meeting to pursue implementation.
Photo credit: Mark van den Brink photography
(A synopsis based on a keynote address given at the Leaders for European Public Health's Senior Health Policy Forum, Leadership for Public Health: A vision for the future, 21 March 2013, University of Maastricht Campus, Brussels)
by George Lueddeke OCT MEd PhD
Consultant in Higher and Medical Education and author of Transforming Medical Education for the 21st Century: Megatrends, Priorities and Change
Although circumstances differ across and within countries, many nations are having to grapple with the same fast changing human socio-economic and cultural forces and conditions that are impacting on population health and personal well-being. The challenges we face in the early decades of the 21st century are immense as we seem to suffer from ‘an ingenuity gap’: that is, ‘a gap between the problems we face and the availability of adequate solutions. 1 In both the rich, and increasingly in the emerging economies, the BRICS countries, as they are called — Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — we must now confront the ‘wicked problems,’ in the sense of ‘being highly resistant to resolution.’ 1
Globally, there is now a huge imbalance between healthcare supply, including the healthcare workforce, and demand, or the increasing burden of disease. While population density is greatest in the East, most medical schools, as one example, are to be found in the West,2 raising many questions about the continuing viability and worldwide ethical justification of the status quo.
Careum Foundation — a major Swiss foundation that is committed to developing innovative approaches to health and care in the 21st century — has been actively supporting the dissemination and discussion of the Lancet Commission report among German-speaking nations. Careum aims to explore new challenges at the interface of health and professional education.
Since the Lancet report’s publication in December 2010, Careum has translated it into German and organized two events to discuss it and its relevance for the German-speaking countries. The most recent symposium was held in January 2013. The first was in February 2012, at which 80 high-ranking experts and policy makers from Switzerland, Austria and Germany came together near Zürich.
The report of the most recent event is available at http://www.careum.ch/careum-dialog. It calls for more inter-sectoral cooperation between the health and education sectors and other stakeholders. It also proposes new approaches to interprofessional education that move beyond a focus on patient care to include other critical functions of the health system: population health, management and IT functions, as well as research and knowledge generation. A detailed working paper will be available at http://www.careum.ch in June 2013. This working paper will also be available in English.
See also: Story about first symposium (Feb 2012)