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EHFG 2020: Dancing with Elephants

September 30, 2020 - October 2, 2020

EHFG 2020: Dancing with Elephants

Health and Sustainable Development – Since its foundation in 1998, the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) conference has developed into a key annual event, bringing together politicians, senior decision-makers, representatives of interest groups, and experts in the field of public health and healthcare. Digital Conference; Sept 30 – Oct 2, 2020

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched health care systems to the limit and beyond, and turned our social, economic, and political lives upside down, the 23rd edition of the European Health Forum Gastein sets out to explore new partnership models to advance health for all. Under the main theme “Dancing with elephants – New partnerships for health, democracy, business,” the EHFG 2020 will take place as a digital event, and bring to life the Gastein spirit in the virtual environment of conferencing platform Brella with a mix of live sessions and on-demand content, interactive participation and meaningful networking with fellow delegates.

The determinants of health and well-being are often driven by the interests of big players, which are not always aligned with public health agendas. To purposefully engage with these giants while safeguarding the interests of people, we need to conceptualize new partnership models – learn to “dance with elephants” – but we should be careful not to get our toes crushed. The COVID-19 pandemic has put into sharp focus the current fault lines in our systems and highlighted the need for true cross-sector and cross-border collaboration.

Critical questions are necessary now more than ever: how can we shift decision-making power and momentum for innovation away from small politico-economic circles? Can we learn from disruptive business models and social entrepreneurship? Should all stakeholders sit at the table, irrespective of political ideologies, interests, and values, or is there a line to be drawn in who we are willing to partner with and when? Are our current democratic systems, which encourage action around four-year electoral cycles, fit to act effectively on complex and diverse long-term challenges such as non-communicable diseases or emergency preparedness? Only by confronting heavy, uncomfortable, and controversial topics can we move forward on democratizing health and well-being, and reach SDG3 for all.

Many of the elephants we want to spotlight during this conference sit at a complicated nexus of economic, political, and social agendas. Dancing with them, therefore, means, amongst other things, addressing political and commercial determinants of health in tandem. The ongoing pandemic may have created the momentum needed for real and sustainable change: Can we mobilize the political will to regulate, form intersectoral partnerships, and adopt a whole of society approach, accommodating each other’s strengths and limitations?

You can review the continuously updated conference program here, and registration is open.

EHFG 2020: Dancing with Elephants

European Digital Health Calendar


September 30, 2020
October 2, 2020
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