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Invitational workshop: Bridging the health divide across the Mediterranean: an agenda for public health research and policy 

Friday 22 November, 11:10 - 12:10, Room Callelongue Gradin


Organised by:



The Mediterranean region has a rich history and is home to some of the earliest civilisations. Today, the Mediterranean is often in the news as a result of tragic events and unrest including conflict and loss of lives at sea. Political meetings such as the South EU summit of Southern European leaders and the 5+5 EuroMed are useful events to highlight the priority policy issues of this region. Yet, health has rarely been at the forefront of the political agenda for the Mediterranean. The migrant crisis comes as a timely reminder that there exists a full continent on the other side of this sea and border countries from Africa, themselves in active processes of reform and change, should be seen as neighbours with whom the European public health community needs to collaborate. 

The purpose of this workshop is to shine light on the health divide across the Mediterranean, to highlight key epidemiological, health systems and global health governance issues of priority to the region. It aims to stimulate an initial discussion for a public health research and policy focus on the Mediterranean region which could eventually lead to a call for action and activities at international level. 

Our North African neighbours share several public health challenges with us, from financing of health systems, epidemiological transition toward NCD diseases, environment and life style risks, human resources for health challenges and migrant issues from other parts of the continent. Marseille, as the conference location, provides a unique opportunity to debate and exchange with the three Maghreb countries facing the southern border of Europe.  

Principle messages

  1. Maghreb health systems are in transition, all three rather different, but rather close to some European and EU health systems regarding financing, priorities, social and regional inequalities in access to health services, ageing and NCD growth pressure. How can they become a part and contribute to the very active European Public Health analysis and benchmarks on optimizing health systems performance?
  2. Part of the health crisis regarding migrants in Europe is also an issue for health care systems in Maghreb countries. Are there ways to collaborate, to implement real collaborative and joint actions?
  3. Maghreb countries face a very specific crisis because of European policies of attracting health professionals: the brain drain is a significant issue, endangering the capacity of the Maghreb health systems. Do we foresee solutions to it?
  4. Maghreb countries face the same transition as Europe toward chronic diseases’ increased burden due to global changes in lifestyles and exposure to globalized health risks, But also thanks to improved health care and longer life expectancies.  Fighting an increase in some risk factors can only be global or regional, with joint actions in need of forgetting the presence of the sea. Chronic disease is also an issue for international organizations: for example, such discussion could bring the three WHO regional officers involved around the Mediterranean closer. 


Moderators: Yves Charpak, Chair of the 12th European Public Health Conference, and Bettina Borish, Executive Director World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA)

Setting the Scene:
The health divide across the Mediterranean: epidemiology, health systems & international governance
Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat, President European Public Health Association (EUPHA), Department of Health Services Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, WHO Collaborating Centre on Health Systems and Policies in Small States, University of Malta, Malta 

On going transition in Maghreb health systems: sustainability or tentative support from the EU? How to work better together?
Miloud Kaddar, Senior health economist, Algeria
Dr Kaddar has held a career in international consultancies and he has worked on vaccines and health products (WHO). He is a member of the Maghreb Network on Health Economics and Health Systems (RESSMA).

Maghreb health systems and European health systems: so different?
Guillaume Dedet, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Dr Dedet is a member of SFSP economic prospective working group, former advisor in WHO Regional Office for Europe’s Health systems division, and member of a steering committee at the French Migrant Office.

Brain drain in human resources in Maghreb countries and the need for ethical code of conduct. Migrations issues and challenges in Maghreb health systems
Belgacem Sabri, Tunisia
Dr Sabri is a former minister for migration and social integration. He has an international career as health systems specialist, economist expert and is a member of the Maghreb Network on Health Economics and Health Systems.

Needs for public health collaborations going far beyond health care systems to address majors health threat, increasing pressure from global life style and environment risks factors, collaboration in health promotion and education, advocacy
Djamel Zoughailech, Algeria
Prof Zoughailech is Professor of Public Health, Constantine, Algeria. He is a member of the Scientific Committee of the African Federation of Public Health.

Interactive discussion with audience participation 

Concluding observations and remarks
Josep Figueras, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies