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EUROPEAN UNION STRATEGY FOR THE BALTIC SEA REGION

Policy Area "Health" 

Background

The Baltic Sea region is still an area of considerable disparities in health and social conditions. It features places where social and economic problems cause high levels of mortality due to non-communicable diseases, violence, alcohol and drug abuse and the spread of infectious diseases. Further, the growing cross-border movement of people needs to be paralleled by actions addressing inequalities in health status and in the level of health protection.

A healthy population in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) is a prerequisite for productivity, economic competitiveness and further development. By aiming to improve the health and well-being of people in the BSR, PA Health contributes to the objective of increasing prosperity in the region. PA Health strives to raise awareness among other policy areas for the impact of their domain on health and for the need to implement a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach.

 

HiAP is an approach that improves accountability of policymakers for health impacts at all levels of policy-making including emphasis on the consequences of public policies on health systems and determinants of health and well-being. It also contributes to sustainable development. 

 

 

Priorities and targets

 PA Health focusses on the following actions:

The above health-related actions correlate with the goals and operational targets included in the NDPHS Strategy 2020 and its Action Plan, the WHO Europe Health 2020 Strategy, the European policy framework for health, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, the principle of universal health coverage (UHC), the WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030 and other global and regional strategic frameworks. 

Sustainable Development Goals

PA Health contributes to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): most directly to SDG 3 “Good health and well-being” with the ongoing work against HIV, TB and associated infections, the reduction of non-communicable diseases (with an approximate 30% reduction of premature avoidable deaths on average in the BSR already achieved), the prevention of harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances as well as strengthening Primary Health Care, which is of utmost importance for a sustainable healthcare system and access to care for the most vulnerable people.


The secondary effects of good health are far-reaching. A healthy population is a more productive population, which contributes to the SDG 8 “Decent work and economic growth“ and a population given the opportunity to be productive is less affected by poverty, contributing to SDG 1 “Zero poverty“.


Other concrete examples include the PA Health work on occupational health and safety (SDG 8 “Decent work and economic growth”), tackling the threat of antimicrobial resistance improving both human health and also livestock health and farm waste management (SDG 2 “Zero hunger” and SDG 6 “Clean water and sanitation”) as well as focus on the health of vulnerable groups, in particular prisoners, contributes SDG 10 “Reduce inequalities”.


PA Health will focus increasingly on healthy and active ageing, to address the demographic change in the region. Optimizing opportunities for good health at all stages of life will ensure that older people can maintain independence and increase their social and economic participation in society, while reducing healthcare costs. This work will contribute to several SDGs, among which are SDG 4 “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote life-long learning”, SDG 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, SDG 10 “Reduced inequality within and among the countries” and SDG 11 “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable“.

Governance – steering committee


Currently, the Committee of Senior Representatives (CSR) is the steering committee for the PA Health. The CSR is comprised of representatives from the Ministries of Health of the NDPHS Partner Countries (Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Sweden) and NDPHS Partner Organizations. CSR/PA Health steering group meetings are also attended by the leadership of the seven NDPHS Expert Groups (antimicrobial resistance, alcohol and substance abuse, HIV, TB and associated infections, non-communicable diseases, occupational safety and health, prison health and primary healthcare). 
 

Progress

 

Health is an area, which presents enormous challenges for the region and where targeted, joint action can produce tangible results.

The main achievements in the implementation process so far include, but are not limited to: (i) fostering macro-regional cooperation in health and making it more integrated and inclusive; (ii) providing assistance in identifying potential sources of financing for activities contributing to the implementation of the Strategy; (iii) fostering macro-regional cooperation in policy shaping; (iv) development, facilitation and support of regional flagship projects contributing to the implementation of the Strategy, and (v) increased visibility and recognition of importance of health on the regional cooperation agenda.

One more issue to address is to further efforts to involve other relevant regional stakeholders in the implementation of the Strategy.

With regards to the Flagship Projects, the following ones have been listed for the PA Health in the EUSBSR Action Plan (click on a project name for more information about it).

 

Activities

AgeFLAG is the flagship under preparation that aims to strengthen multi-sectoral actions for a life-course approach at multiple levels and sectors to prevent disease, promote health, maintain intrinsic capacity and functional ability of individuals to improve healthy ageing and enable well-being in the older age. 

 

Project

Focus

Summary Geographical area
BaltCityPrevention - Baltic cities tackle lifestyle related diseases Lifestyle related diseases Duration: October 2017 - ongoing

The main project aims:
1. To develop and test a new approach which helps Public Health Authorities (PHA) in prevention intervention planning. It will enable the PHAs to better tailor the interventions to the specific needs of the user group by applying participatory and co-creation methods in the planning procedure.

2. To involve eHealth technologies in the planning and implementation of the intervention in order to foster the joint development and co-design process. eHealth tools also support the user in the prevention intervention.

3. To initiate cooperation between PHAs and small and medium-sized enterprises through networking and matchmaking events. 

Denmark
Estonia
Finland
Germany
Latvia
Lithuania
Poland
Northern Dimension Antibiotic Resistance Study (NoDARS) Antibiotic resistance

Duration: October 2014 – September 2017

The aim of the project was to provide health-care professionals, authorities and policy makers with valuable information on the penetration of antibiotic resistance in society and identified specific resistance determinants among the normal flora of healthy individuals.

Finland
Germany
Latvia
Norway
Poland
Russia
Sweden 
Building capacity in prevention of HIV and associated infections among youth at high risk  HIV prevention Duration: September 2013 – August 2015

The aim of the project was to address the area of HIV prevention among youth at high risk of getting HIV and associated infections. Project activities included the assessment of needs of young people at risk in prevention programs, mapping best practices, training professionals, disseminating best practices and development of guide

Finland
Latvia
Poland
Russia 
 “PrimCare IT” - Counteracting brain drain and professional isolation of health professionals in remote primary health care through tele-consultation and tele-mentoring to strengthen social conditions in remote BSR eHealth

Primary health care 

Duration: January 2012 – March 2014

The aim of the project was to raise the attractiveness of remote primary health care. Opportunities for professional networking and continuing medical education as well as career development in remote areas are several issues which could be efficiently managed by means of tele-consultation and tele-mentoring, including social media. The project complements the above-named Imprim and ICT for Health projects. 

Belarus
Estonia
Finland
Germany
Latvia
Lithuania
Sweden
"ICT for Health" – Strengthening social capacities for the utilisation of eHealth technologies in the framework of the ageing population  eHealth Duration: January 2010 – December 2012

The aim of the project was to enhance the social capacity, knowledge and acceptance by the citizens with chronic diseases and medical professionals in the regions of the project partners to utilise eHealth technologies in prevention and treatment. 

Denmark
Finland
Germany
Lithuania
Norway
Poland
Russia
Sweden
Alcohol and drug prevention among youth Alcohol use
Substance use
Duration: October 2012 – November 2013

The aim of the project was to reduce hazardous and harmful alcohol use and substance use in general among young people in municipalities around the Baltic Sea region through local empowerment and capacity building.

Iceland
Finland
Lithuania
Russia
Sweden
Improvement of public health by promotion of equitably distributed high quality primary health care systems  Primary health care Duration: March 2010 – December 2012

The aim of the project was to improve public health in the Baltic Sea region and, in particular, in its Eastern part. Within this wide objective, the project focused on the role of primary health care and its benefits for the public health system as well as the regional competitiveness. 

Belarus
Estonia
Finland
Latvia
Lithuania
Russia
Sweden 
     

  

Stakeholder Engagement

 

PA Health has an established structure of thematic experts and a network of stakeholders in the region. In addition to the NDPHS Partner Organisations, several stakeholders from civil society, academia, as well as national, regional and local authorities are involved in the implementation of PA Health activities and projects. In the future, PA Health will work on further broadening its stakeholder outreach and engagement, in particular to NGOs working on health-related issues in the Baltic Sea Region and beyond. A strategy on stakeholder relations will be part of the future increased communication activities of PA Health.
 
As the Policy Area Coordinator for “Health” in the EUSBSR the NDPHS provides assistance to stakeholders interested in contributing to this Policy Area in:
 
  • Fostering macro-regional cooperation in the public health area and making it more integrated and inclusive (by strengthening and expanding existing networks, creating new networks and encouraging new stakeholders to get involved in regional health cooperation);
  • Identifying potential sources of financing for activities contributing to the implementation of the Strategy (e.g., by organising seminars on project development and funding, providing information on the NDPHS website and via individual consultations);
  • Fostering macro-regional cooperation in policy shaping (e.g., by promoting the concept of policy-to-project-to-policy cycle to raise the awareness among project developers of the importance of meeting policy needs and among policy-makers of the need to take project outcomes into account when developing or reshaping policies);
  • Development and facilitation of, and support to regional flagships contributing to the implementation of the Strategy (e.g., by supporting stakeholders in project development and fund-raising, assisting in looking for projects partners, providing letters of support);
  • Increased visibility and recognition of importance of health on the regional cooperation agenda (e.g., by strengthening the understanding of the importance of health and social well-being for other policy areas and economic development);

 

As a Policy Area Coordinator the NDPHS has received a third technical assistance grant financed by the European Union through the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme 2014-2020. The grant aims supporting the NDPHS work in coordination and implementation of activities within the Health Policy Area of the EUSBSR Action Plan. The grant is funding a two-year project "PA Health support 3" running until 30 September 2020.

Stakeholders interested in receiving the above or another type of support within the EUSBSR context are invited to contact the NDPHS Secretariat.

 

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