We first met Weronika during National Diabetes Awareness Month last year where she introduced us to her awesome social media channels (which has since grown) and her diabetes advocacy work. Now, we are pleased to have Weronika back to share her experience as part of the European Health Parliament during World Health Day.
Today we celebrate World Health Day and 2019's theme is "Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere".
“Universal health coverage is WHO’s number one goal. Progress is being made in countries in all regions of the world. But millions of people still have no access at all to health care. Millions more are forced to choose between healthcare and other daily expenses such as food, clothing and even a home.” - World Health Organisation.
Health is a human right, but it is still a big challenge and many countries in the world are struggling to achieve this goal. As Herman Van Rompuy, first President of the European Council said “Human person first. Patient is the measure of all things and we are all patients.”
For me, as a diabetes advocate, it is very important to be involved in health-related movements, campaigns or projects. I know that even the smallest actions can make a difference and I want to make a positive change for people challenged by diabetes and other chronic diseases. That's why last year I applied to become a member of the 4th edition of the European Health Parliament.
“The European Health Parliament (EHP) is a movement connecting and empowering the next generation of European health leaders to rethink EU health policies. Each year the EHP convenes a diverse group of 60 young professionals representing all healthcare sectors. Participants work together for six months to develop policy recommendations that address today’s most pressing European health issues, which are picked in cooperation with the European Commission. EHP participants are selected for their contribution to and potential to lead in European health policy and come from a range of educational and occupational backgrounds.” - European Health Parliament.
I was thrilled when I found out I was admitted for the 2018-2019 term. At the first meeting, we were introduced to topics we are going to focus on in this edition. Each participant could become a member of one of five Committees: Committee on Health Literacy & Self-care, Committee on Disease Prevention and Management, Committee on Innovation & Value, Committee on Human Health & the Environment and Committee on Data for Healthy Societies.
I was assigned to the Committee on Health Literacy & Self-care, I was very happy because it was my first choice. As a person living with diabetes, I understand the importance of being health literate. Being educated about your own health is empowering because only with good tools people can make good decisions for their own health. Also, health literacy and health information are very important in achieving equal access to healthcare.
Our Committee decided to focus on online health information, because it is available almost anywhere, at any time, and is shared faster than ever. I can't count how many times I found a webpage dedicated to some "magical herbs” which are curing diabetes. The Internet is a great source but it can be dangerous. We need to know where can we find reliable health information!
EHP was 6 months of hard work, many inspirational lectures, and engaging discussions! We had a pleasure to meet with Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner on Health and Food Safety, who inspired us with his wise words. We interviewed European citizens regarding upcoming elections and the future of healthcare in Europe. We had interesting training sessions about the functioning of the EU and creating policy recommendations.
Our Committee was very active: we conducted an online survey about health literacy (we collected 169 answers from 23 European countries) and we launched a social media campaign on World Education Day (I am the author of the illustrations) to highlight the importance of health education. Thanks to our Committee chair's (Urška Košir) leadership skills we created great policy recommendations.
This week, EHP final plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels concluded our amazing journey. Policy recommendations of five Committees are now live and available online. Read recommendations of our Committee on Health Literacy & Self-care at http://www.healthparliament.eu/hlsc/.
If we want to make a change in the health field, we need to really be engaged. As EHP President, Katarína Gatialová said: “Who if not us and when if not now?”