Autumn School for health information and evidence for policy-making honours its very first supporter

WHO/Koen Peters

Professor van der Zande recognized for his pivotal role in establishing the EHII and Autumn school

WHO has recognized the contribution of Professor André van der Zande, former Director-General of the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) for his founding role in establishing the European Health Information Initiative (EHII) and the Autumn school for health information and evidence for policy. The letter of appreciation from Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe was presented at the occasion of the 6th Autumn School held in The Hague, the Netherlands on 29 January – 1 February 2019.

Dr Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation, WHO, praised Professor van der Zande saying that neither the EHII nor the Autumn School would exist today without the commitment and support of the RIVM and Professor van der Zande in particular. “None of us would be here today without you, Professor van der Zande, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your leadership, support and commitment to enhance health information in the whole European Region”.

Contributing to better use of health and evidence in policy-making

The Autumn School focuses on equipping participants with practical knowledge and skills. ‘I learned about tools and good practice that can be used to bring health information and evidence closer to policy-making,” said Dr Sigríður Haraldsdóttir, Head of the Division of Health Information at the Directorate of Health in Reykjavík, Iceland, echoing the sentiments of many of the participants who took part in the Autumn School “I am excited and encouraged by this opportunity to gain more knowledge and learn from the experience of other countries and from WHO. I am convinced that what I have learned and will take home with me can contribute significantly to strengthening the Icelandic health information system.Participating in the autumn school was time well spent” she added.

The 20 participants from 9 countries worked on the interface of data analysis, data visualization, research/knowledge integration and policy and were able to get practical insights and solutions for improving national health information systems.

“The Autumn School is a flagship course of the Regional Office and has been taking place annually for the past 6 years. It is one of the main capacity-building events under the umbrella of the European Health Information Initiative. We were again impressed and encouraged by the animated participation, and I am convinced that the skills that have been gained and the professional relationships that have been forged will translate into better use of health information and evidence in policy-making. This will in turn lead to real improvements in health for the people of the European Region. We are very grateful to the Ministry of Health of the Netherlands who have generously supported this event.”

Dutch financial support

The 5-day Autumn School was financially supported by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports through a generous grant. In his opening address, the ministry’s Chief Science Officer, Professor Hans van Ours said: “We are very happy that this Autumn School on Health Information and Evidence for Policy-making is taking place in The Netherlands, as we have been a strong supporter of health information efforts in the WHO European Region. We consider it the backbone of public health. Health information has helped Dutch policy makers to identify critical issues in our health system and to set the public health policy agenda.”