European Public Health Association: One year of German presidency
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- Kirch, W. J Public Health (2004) 12: 147. doi:10.1007/s10389-004-0025-6
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The European Public Health Association (EUPHA) has existed for 12 years. The reasons why this scientific society has grown considerably over the years are its yearly conferences and the publication of the European Journal of Public Health (EJPH). The journal is renowned and has an impact factor of 1.15. Most journals from the field of social medicine in its broadest sense have lower values. The interest in the annual meetings of EUPHA rose steadily. For the Rome congress, which took place November 20–22, 2003 with more than 900 scientists attending 638 abstracts were submitted of which 415 were accepted for oral or poster presentation (rejection rate, approximately 30%), indicating that scientific quality is EUPHA’s main purpose. This is apparently in contrast to many so-called European or World Congresses at which often nearly every abstract is accepted in order to have the largest number of participants possible. Over the years it has paid off that EUPHA always has emphasized scientific quality. Thus EUPHA has a remarkable scientific database and a comprehensive network of experts working in the field of public health in research, practice and policy. This makes the cooperation with EUPHA attractive. The society has close relationships with the European Commission, specifically EU SANCO in Luxembourg (European Health Ministry), WHO/Euro in Copenhagen, the OECD in Paris and ASPHER—the European Society for Public Health teaching. In 2003, a book entitled Public Health in Europe—10 years EUPHA was published by EUPHA in cooperation with the European Commission and WHO/Euro (Springer, Heidelberg).
A comprehensively organized annual congress for scientific and social exchange.
A renowned and well-accepted scientific journal. Yearly meetings and the journal are providing an important identification forum for members.
A scientific database as well as a network of experts enabling interested professionals to find answers to actual scientific questions.
The president of EUPHA is elected for 1 year, starting after the annual congress organized by the president elect. Thus I was responsible for the 10th EUPHA meeting in Dresden, November 28–30, 2002 as president elect. Afterwards I had to serve as EUPHA president, a position which was held for the first time by a German. My successor will be Professor Walter Ricciardi who organized the Rome conference on November 20–22, 2003 and thereupon he will preside EUPHA. My overall impression is that the 1 year of congress preparation and the following year of presidency is so demanding that one term is enough for a person who otherwise is employed in a regular job. For EUPHA this mode guarantees a certain continuity: 2 years as president elect to learn the society’s business, 1 year as president and afterwards 1 further year as past president providing advice to the successors. Additionally EUPHA has permanent members of its Executive Council: a secretary (until 2003 Prof. van der Zee), a treasurer, a manager and the journal’s editor-in-chief. In EUPHA’s Governing Council are 62 members from 31 European countries.
Confirmation of future congress venues after corresponding negotiations: 2004 Oslo (Prof. Tellnes), 2005 Graz (Prof. Noack) together with Maribor and Zagreb, 2006 Geneva (Prof. Vader), and 2007 Lisbon (Prof. Sakellarides). The yearly conferences of EUPHA rotate between southern, western, northern and eastern Europe. Considerable correspondence and travelling were necessary for the final decisions mentioned.
Negotiations for a possible change of the publisher of the European Journal of Public Health mainly for financial reasons. At the same time I was able to arrange for the Journal of Public Health (formerly Zsch.Ges.Wissensch.) to change from Juventa Publishers to Springer Publishing Company, Heidelberg.
At the 10th Annual congress of EUPHA in Dresden, the accepted abstracts for presentation were published in the society’s own journal in a supplement to the European Journal of Public Health (EJPH). My intention was to continue this procedure: thus the Rome abstracts were also published in the EJPH.
Appointment of a new editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Public Health. Confirmed was Prof. Mackenbach of Rotterdam as successor to Prof. McKee of London.
Confirmation of a new permanent secretary of EUPHA: Prof. Diana Delnoij for Prof. van der Zee (both of Utrecht)
Negotiations concerning certain adjustments in the EUPHA office in Utrecht, including changes in the contract with its manager Dr. Dineke Zeegers Paget.
Collaboration with institutions which are involved in the field of public health with regard to science and practice, e.g. the European Commission EU SANCO-Luxembourg (Dr. Ryan), WHO/Euro Copenhagen (Dr. Danzon), OECD Paris (Dr. Berglind Ásgeirsdóttir) or ASPHER (Dr. Louvet). As already mentioned, one example of cooperation was editing the book Public Health in Europe together with the EU and WHO/Euro. Furthermore, the use of each other’s research data was agreed upon (comprehensive network projects).
The cooperation between WHO/Euro and EUPHA also includes publishing WHO/Euro information in the European Journal of Public Health, as well as organizing WHO/Euro stands and workshops at each EUPHA conference.
Considerable efforts had to be made in order to obtain financial support from EU SANCO Luxembourg, as has been the case in recent years. This required preparing of an application for the Rome conference by us, whereby the experience from our own meeting in 2002 served as an example. Finally, the Rome meeting was financed by EU SANCO Luxembourg with €108,000.
Soros Foundation New York provides grants for eastern European scientists in order to come to the EUPHA congresses. The continuity for this financial support had to be arranged as well as funding from the Open Society Institute of partnerships between Eastern and Western European public health societies, in order to establish teaching and research projects in the Eastern European countries (e.g. Albania/Germany, Prof. Laaser).
A coordinating (working) party for all EU projects on Health and Lifestyle Determinants (LiS) was acquired from EU SANCO Luxembourg and established in Dresden at the Saxon Public Health Research Association.
EUPHA had to be represented with various communications and speeches at different national meetings such as the 1st National Congress of Public Health in Reykjavik, the 400th Anniversary of the Norwegian General Practitioners in Bergen, the Portuguese Society for Public Health and Health Promotion in Lisbon and so on.
During 2003 an EUPHA project on the future of public health in Europe was organized with four workshops relating to the following topics:
The future of public health: bridging the gap between research and policy and practice, 10 May 2003, in Utrecht. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
The future of public health in Europe from the policy-makers’ point of view, 15 June 2003, in Bergen. For more information: email@example.com
The future of public health: how to practice public health in the future, 19 September 2003, in Brussels. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
The future of public health in Europe: preliminary results of the EUPHA project 2002–2003 and a first critical analysis of the EUPHA report, 20 November 2003, in Rome. For more information: email@example.com
The results of the workshops mentioned will be summarized in a paper on the future of public health in Europe.
In conclusion, as EUPHA president one is privileged to interesting insights into European public health, into its research databases and scientific networks. By working for EUPHA you gain familiarity with a scientific society which functions well and continues to grow. In most areas of its activities, EUPHA is a true example of how a scientific society should be run.