Welcome to the second edition of the EuroHealthNet online magazine, taking a look behind the headlines of health promotion and wellbeing in Europe, and thanks to all for your positive comments about our launch issue earlier this year.
I hope you have enjoyed a good summer whatever you have done? Maybe like me you found some time to catch up on reading? Alongside the fiction, I also read ‘’The Body Economic – why austerity kills’’ by David Stickler and Sanjay Basu (Allen Lane/Penguin books). I could hardly say I enjoyed it, but I recommend it as essential reading for anyone interested in the social and economic determinants of health. It is a powerful read with new compelling evidence of the causal link between the strength of a community’s health and its social protection systems, making the case for the building of fairer, more equal societies.
I also learnt much from my first MOOC. If you are new to this fast growing concept, these are Massive Open Online Courses: essentially university modules taught freely and openly. The range coming online is enormous and some of my colleagues at the EuroHealthNet Brussels office have tried out some philosophical and other courses from the USA. I started closer to home: a short course on health inequalities run by the University of Sheffield. It took about 5 hours per week for 4 weeks and looked good quality to me, well taught, thought provoking, accurate and welcoming. About a thousand other students signed up from all over the world and from a range of interests, we could interact in groups and with tutors, and I highly recommend not just students but people from all backgrounds, ages and perspectives to think about how the MOOC movement offers prospects to open up lifelong learning opportunities globally. This could be a big idea, and we should be part of it.
So I have returned to work with new ideas and knowledge, more ready for the hectic period ahead as new EU programmes come on stream. We had a busy summer in the office as the new EU Employment and Social Change Innovation (EaSI) programme kicked off and we hope very much to be part of it. We have submitted a bid to help take forward our strategic development plan 2014-2020, and for us to help tackle the social needs of European people. Everyone I mention it to seems excited by either the new Health Promotion Europe core, the Centre for Implementing Research and Innovation in Health & Wellbeing (CIRI) or the Platform for Health and Social equity (PHASE) which are all launching this autumn. We will have lots more news and ideas and bids to discuss with you in the coming months, so do watch out for our messages and newsletters.
In this issue my colleagues write about those plans in some more detail, explain the new EU Social Investment Package (SIP) which will be a big feature of our work, and outline developments on our work in the context of the EU seeking to tackle health inequalities. Several member organisations tell us about highlights of their work and we welcome some new participants in EuroHealthNet.
So I do hope you find this issue both useful and enjoyable, and do let me know any ideas for articles by you or others, and what we can do to improve this new venture together.
Clive advises the EuroHealthNet Executive Board and managing director on policies relating to health for all EU activities and actions on social, economic and environmental determinants of equity and wellbeing. He was formerly overall EuroHealthNet director for thirteen years and continues to work in support of WHO and other international organisations and projects in Europe.