NEOH management committee meetings
The Management Committee (MC) is the main decision-making body of NEOH and is composed of a maximum of two representatives of each COST Country which has signed the NEOH Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MC Members are nominated by the COST National Coordinators of the COST Countries. The MC meets annually and takes decisions on the NEOH structure, its strategy and the organisation of the networking activities, budget relevant questions, and invitation of additional participants (e.g. Invited Experts, Occasional Participants).
University of Murcia, Spain 9th February 2018
The 5th NEOH management committee meeting took place on Friday 9th February 2018 at the University of Murcia, Spain with the kind assistance of our local organiser, Dr Asta Tvarijonaviciute.
After Asta’s warm welcome, the meeting’s agenda was introduced by Barbara Häsler who chaired the meeting. After the initial formalities of verification of a quorum, adoption of the agenda and the approval of the minutes of the last meeting, an update was shared on the status of Action, Short Term Scientific Missions and budget. Progress reports were presented by each working group and progress on scientific planning and strategy was discussed.
A local tapas style meal was enjoyed at lunchtime, which was followed by presentations by various Spanish NEOH members.
Juan Cegarra shared work on knowledge management in home hospitalisation units, which aim to reduce hospital infections, improve quality of life for patients, reduce hospital admissions and improve hospital performances. He highlighted the challenges of families adopting medical technologies and the medical professionals who have to work in unstructured environments. He concluded that support was required at the individual level and at the organisational/ management level to enable adaption and change. The main challenges were knowledge barriers and staff reluctance to question the validity of own beliefs.
Francisco Gimenez Sanches gave an update on the historic and current situation of several diseases and their vaccination/control measures across Europe. The current challenges associated with migration from war areas or areas of low vaccination were highlighted. He commented that there are still issues with public hesitation to vaccinate largely driven by social media. He concluded that there is a need to use maximise coverage through the education system and to use public figures to reverse trends using social media to promote positive vaccination messages.
Jose J Ceron presented on the use of biomarkers in OH namely in translational medicine, zoonoses, comparative medicine and environmental health. The OH questions that arise are i) can we use tests and reagents across species, and ii) are biomarkers comparable across different species. He reported that human tests are mostly developed and applied for use in animal and environmental health and less so in the opposite direction. The basis of the assay needs to be understood and then validated accordingly across species. Challenges remain in having expensive tests in one species, which do not work in others or even those that are not reliable within the same species.
After these presentations, the next NEOH workshop in Greece was discussed and suggestions were made to support ITC countries to organise and identify participants to invite and promote the meeting through their networks.
A presentation was made on three options for the publication of the NEOH handbook before discussing the scope and programme of the NEOH final Action conference that will take place in September 2018 in Bologna https://eventi.unibo.it/neohfinalconferenceandworkshop-distal-bologna-2018. Maurizio Aragrande, the NEOH vice-chair, presented a draft programme, which included an opportunity for NEOH members to showcase progress on the first day. The second day would be a Global OH day with presentations on the developing OH landscape, whilst the final day would be on dissemination of NEOH outputs, where the NEOH methodology would be explained.
Maryla Hanna Obszarski and Brigitte Petersen presented the OH and Food Safety Congress in Bonn 18-19/09/18 (www.onehealth.uni-bonn.de) together with the 2nd Joint Summer School 17-25/09/18 (www.joint-summer-school.uni-bonn.de), both organised by the University of Bonn, as OH activities in the food system arena. Opportunities for linkages across the Bologna and Bonn conferences were discussed.
Finally, John Berezowski reported on thoughts and progress on the second phase of NEOH. So far, the working group had met twice to work on the purpose, vision and mission statement. The governance, legal and financial structures were seen as the main challenges. A questionnaire will be circulated to gauge opinions from other NEOH members and relevant stakeholders. It was agreed that the proposals and a decision should be in place before the Bologna conference so as to use the platform to launch this initiative.
The meeting was concluded and several members met informally for a dinner together in the picturesque plaza near the Murcia Cathedral.
University of Malta, Valletta, Malta 16-17th January 2017
In the morning of the 16th of January, the management committee met to discuss the progress of the Action and to plan the next activities and the budget.
At lunch, other NEOH members joined for the plenary session, which was opened with warm welcoming words from Prof Sandra Buttigieg, local organiser and management committee member for Malta and Head of Department of Health Services Management, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Malta. The Hon Christopher Fearne, Minister of Health for Malta then formally opened the meeting. He pointed out that since Malta currently has the presidency of the European Council, he has the privilege of also being president of the European Health Council. This presidency provides an opportunity to inform the health agenda in the short and long term. The Hon Christopher Fearne pointed out three health priorities: 1) Obesity, 2) European reference networks, and 3) Exchange system for post graduate medical training across Europe.
The next speaker was Prof Sandra Buttigieg who talked about the benefits of a One Health approach using case studies as examples, where the complexity of the cases required transdisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity. Afterwards, the audience was welcomed by Angela Xuereb Anastasi, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. She gave a brief overview of the Faculty and its research interests. The Faculty aims to improve partnerships with international universities and is keen to pursue more interdisciplinary research. Congratulations were expressed to NEOH members, particularly those from Malta who are promoting involvement of Maltese researchers in the network. Finally, Barbara Haesler, the NEOH chair, also welcomed everyone and thanked the conference organisers, particularly Sandra Buttigieg for their great support. She described NEOH as a dynamic network – coming up with new ideas and trying things out, whilst growing through interacting with more and more people from different backgrounds and bringing people together.
Following the introduction two keynote speakers talked about the potential of using One Health as an approach to addressing European public health priorities and the understanding and developing of information infrastructure.
1) Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat – President of European Public Health Association (EUPHA) in her talk One Health: an approach to address European public health priorities provided a short summary of the EUPHA highlighting its over 20-year history in promoting multidisciplinary working, professional exchange and collaboration between its members and beyond. The EUPHA has become a leading voice in public health. The One Health approach was recognised as providing a paradigm for mounting an effective PH response and in that light, the EUPHA expressed a willingness to work with veterinarians and people from other disciplines.
2) Prof Ole Hanseth, Professor in the Research Group for Information Systems at University of Oslo, in his talk Information Infrastructures and Infrastructure Studies showed about how information infrastructures and how infrastructure studies could assist in sharing of data between different sectors. The presentation demonstrated the network effects of a self-reinforcing installed base (e.g. iPhone/ Android platform) where the mechanism drives the large scale development, and the implications and side-effects thereof (e.g. dependency, competition tipping point, lock-in etc.). Strategies were presented of how to start when there is no base.
The next session focused on evaluation of One Health. The first speaker was Catherine Machalaba, from the Ecohealth Alliance – PREDICT, who had worked with other NEOH members on One Health governance. She pointed out that there is now increasing support for One Health, e.g. UN Convention on Biological Diversity: (2014, 2016), the FAO-OIE-WHO tripartite agreement, the UN Ggeneral Assembly’s approach to AMR and the Global Health Security Agenda. She then talked about the PREDICT project and One Health indicators in PREDICT.
Dr Sara Savic, management committee member for Serbia, then outlined the WG2 activities over the last year. Highlights included the Training School in Novi Sad, seven completed short term scientific missions by WG2 members, 9 completed case study evaluations and 3 case study evaluations in progress. She also explained next steps and planned activities, with the view of publication of the case studies in the NEOH special issue in Frontiers. Her presentation provided the backdrop for the evening session with presentations by case study leaders. Each case study leader provided an explanation of the rationale for the case study, the background, evaluation question, methodology used, results obtained and an interpretation/discussion (presentations are accessible on Alfresco for NEOH members). Following the presentations, a discussion took place on the evaluation questions and the NEOH protocols including the evaluation process, how to assess One Health in terms of outcomes, what to change in the methodology, and how to simplify something that becomes increasingly complex the deeper you go.
The day was rounded off with participants taking a bus for a networking dinner at the beautiful Verdala Palace situated in surrounding woodland. Built originally in 1555 as a hunting lodge it was expanded into a palace in 1586 but has also been used over the centuries as a military prison and a silk factory falling into disrepair in the early 1800’s. It was fully restored in the 1850’s and served as the official summer residence of the then British governors and the now President of Malta. It boasts an ornate interior with several frescoed walls and ceilings.
On the 2nd day, Daniele de Meneghi and Sara Savic gave a presentation on the initial findings from the NEOH and EURNEGVEC international survey to explore the collaboration between human, animal and environmental health sectors.
Following that, Asta Tvarijonaviciute chaired a session on “Obesity and One Health”. Dr Charmaine Gauci spoke first about obesity in Malta with reference to behaviours in families and links between obese family members and obese pet ownership. She also introduced the TRIO Programme which aims to improve health status of the EU population with a focus on NCDs, co-operation between health systems, communicable diseases and data sharing. Dr Jorge Pinto Ferreira followed this, presenting “Obesity policies: can they benefit from an OH approach?” and talked about this experiences with the non-profit organisation – CAOVIDA (The One Health Club), which provides assistance to families with overweight children; bringing together dogs and children to create a community through monthly activities and offering parental support. Dr Daniel Cauchi spoke third on the Implications of obesogenic environment in Malta (download part 1 and part 2) – a case for adopting One Health strategy and talked about his cross-sectional study on an environmental audit of what influences obesity in Malta and the environmental barriers. Finally, Dr Alberto Muñoz and Dr Asta Tvarijonaviciute presented their NEOH case study on Obesity and One Health.
Francesca Contadini talked about the OH-SMART tool which is a practical tool developed by USDA and University of Minnesota to visualize, analyse and identify breakpoints and communication gaps in a network of organisations.
After the presentations, there were break-out sessions used by NEOH members to
- Collect feedback on the handbook chapters: Overall, the conclusion was that the chapters were appreciated, welcomed and found useful, but that they need considerable improvement. Detailed comments were collected for each chapter which will be shared with the handbook leaders.
- Reflect on progress to date: WG2 leader reminded members that the case study evaluations and manuscripts for publication need to be finished in June 2017. She underlined the need to evaluate the outcomes of the case studies as soon as possible.
- Elaborate on a plan for the meta-study (WG3): The group came up with a five step plan: i) to develop a typology and motivation for OH Initiatives in order to classify the OHI for the global analysis, ii) to select additional, well informed case studies in each category, iii) use multivariate/multicomponent analysis, iv) develop a simplified version of the methodology to assess OHness of additional case studies and v) to look at how OHness varies among OH categories. A date and location for a dedicated meeting was agreed.
- Plan dissemination and engagement activities: WG4 members discussed dissemination plans for the handbook, target audience for the final Action conference, a NEOH leaflet and a NEOH video.
Following a final plenary session with discussion on the break out groups, the event came to an end with closing words by the chair who summarised decisions made and outlined the next steps.
Lisbon, Portugal, 18th-19th January 2016
The 3rd Management Committee meeting and NEOH workshop took place at the NOVA Medical School in Lisbon on the 18th and 19th January 2016. The meeting was a great success with 70 participants from 22 European countries attending to discuss the progress of the work and plan further directions.
The morning of the first day was dedicated to the MC meeting and in the afternoon all participants gathered in the prestigious Great Hall of the Medical School and listened to an enthusiastic description of the meaning of the wall paintings. The plenary session started with warm words of welcome by the director of the Medical School (Prof. Jaime Branco), the chair of NEOH (Dr Barbara Häsler) and the local organiser (Prof. Jorge Torgal) followed by presentations by eminent invited speakers (Professor Carla Lopes, University of Oporto; Professor Asa Melhus, University of Uppsala; Professor Bjorn Olsen, University of Uppsala; Professor Luís Sambo, University Nova of Lisbon) who reflected on One Health perspectives and discussed different challenges and potential benefits of “One Health”. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to updates by members on the “Evaluation of One Health” framework, protocol and handbook – the main activities of Work Group 1. A social event in the evening of the first day took place in a local restaurant and was enjoyed by all.
The second day participants split into four groups to further discuss the questions and potential applications in relation to the different book chapters and also discuss the different One Health initiatives that are going to be used to apply, test and refine the evaluation guidelines developed. Finally, next steps were agreed in a plenary session and the meeting concluded with closing words by the chair.
London, United Kingdom, 29th January 2015
The MC meeting took place at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield (London area) on the 29th January 2015 and preceded the first working group meetings which were open to all NEOH members. An update on activities to date, the status of member countries and participants, and new guidelines from the COST office was provided. The working group leaders reported on activities in their groups to date, which formed a good basis for subsequent discussions in the working groups meetings. Finally, the MC agreed on the basic structure for relevant networking tools to be advertised, such as the Short Term Scientific Missions and Early Career Investigator Conference grants.
Brussels, Belgium 17th-18th November 2014
NEOH started officially with the a MC Meeting, which was organised by the COST office and took place on the 17th and 18th November 2014 in Brussels. It was the first time that the MC members met and the diversity among people in the group stimulated many interesting discussions.
During the meeting, the chair, vice-chair, and the leaders for the working groups, the short term scientific mission committee, the editorial board and the webmaster were selected. Further, participants discussed the general strategy of the network, described the focus of the handbook, and agreed on a workplan, timetable and budget.