Newsletter 224 - EU Health Policy Platform

Health-EU Newsletter 224 - Focus

Stand up and take a bow – the Health-EU Award encourages and rewards NGOs in the field of health

While bad news often makes good press, once in a while there is positive news about people doing something good for others. The EU-Health Award is exactly that kind of showcase, highlighting outstanding work by non-governmental organisations working in the field of health. Jury Member Dr Isabel de la Mata, the Principal Adviser for Health and Crisis Management in the European Commission, talks about the award just days after the 2018 prize ceremony held on 12 November in Brussels.

Why does the Commission hold the EU-Health Awards?

The EU-Health Award was set up to thank and encourage non-governmental organisations working in the field of health for their invaluable efforts. It is often the big players who get all the attention – and funding and support – when, in fact smaller initiatives are vital and are often the bridge between policies and real results at street level. They are close to the public, often geared to niche target groups, and invariably run by people who are passionate about what they are doing and working tirelessly to make a difference.

Participating NGOs send in information about their initiatives, which is published on our website. So while they continue to get attention and support, we all benefit from networking and sharing best practices that might be duplicated elsewhere.

When were the awards set up?

Modelled on the earlier EU Health Prize for Journalists, a Commission initiative that ran from 2009 to 2013 to recognise the important contribution of journalists to awareness and progress in the field of public health, the EU-Health Award for NGOs was set up in 2015. Given the ongoing crisis at that time, the first topic chosen was the fight against Ebola. That was a challenging time for all of us working in public health, and the NGOs working in affected areas and elsewhere to stop the spread of that devastating disease particularly deserved recognition and support. In subsequent years, we focused on other important and timely issues - Antimicrobial Resistance in 2016 and vaccination in 2017.

Can you tell us who won this year’s award?

Let me first say that everyone working to prevent or stop the use of tobacco is important. Tobacco use continues to be a leading cause of premature, preventable death and ill health, and the earlier the habit is taken up, the harder it is to give up. All the NGOs who are working in this field are to be commended.

The three initiatives that were selected as this year’s winners provided us with good practice examples that can be valuable tools in preventing tobacco use in the EU. First Prize went to the Irish Cancer Society for their initiative, X-HALE Youth Smoking Prevention Programme. This programme has been active across Ireland every year since 2011, in partnership with over 250 community-based youth organisations. It is geared to young people aged 10-24, mostly from disadvantaged communities.

Second Prize went to Education Against Tobacco / Aufklärung gegen Tabak e.V., an initiative through which more than 1,500 medical students help educate seventh graders about smoking, train prospective doctors and hold school-based studies. They also developed two apps ("Smokerface" and "Smokerstop") that have so far helped more than 500,000 users.

Youth Network No Excuse Slovenia took third place this year. This initiative helps young people to become active citizens, raises awareness in schools about the harmful effects of tobacco use; investigates whether tobacco distributers are in compliance with the law and advocates for stronger tobacco control legislation.

Will there be a 2019 Health-EU Award?

Yes, we’re very pleased to be offering NGOs the chance to earn support and recognition again in 2019. The focus area will be announced in the near future on the European Commission public health website and in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.