It was a real privilege to be part of the EPHA representation at the WHO/Europe High-Level Forum on Health in the Well-Being Economy in Copenhagen last week. I often find I do not take enough time from day-to-day pressures to look up and see that my work is part of a bigger picture. This event was inspirational on a number of levels, and really enabled me to see the value of what I do as part of the much wider context.
It was refreshing firstly to hear from a much wider range of voices and realities than those we are often used to: the WHO Europe region made up of 53 countries gives rise to a much richer dialogue than is often present within the EU. Many of the messages focused on things which I tend to take for granted: the most powerful message for me came from the First Deputy Minister of Health from Armenia ‘peace is the only condition for health’. Too often we forget that the starting point for the EU was the protection of peace, recognising the importance that this has for everything else: health, education, employment.
Indeed, the Forum’s focus on the economy and a transition to a wellbeing economy, building a virtuous circle that supports planetary, human, economic and social wellbeing at the same time put Stiglitz’s words into focus: ‘if you don’t measure the right thing you’re not doing the right thing’, and also highlighted the importance of the state/citizen social contract built on trust and agency; and the social injustice that is present where this contract does not function. To finish with two inspirational quotes ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ and Sir Michael Marmot ‘today is the time for the future’. Civil society’s role in putting people at the forefront of everything has never been so important.