On 22 November 2023 the UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education in collaboration with Maastricht University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, JOGG and EuroHealthNet organized a workshop on “Intersectoral working among education and health: from words into actions”. It was one of the sessions during the 13th European Congress on Global Health, ECTMIH2023, in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
The COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of intersectoral working between health and education sectors. Yet they still have their own objectives and speak their own language. During the workshop the importance of intersectoral working between health and education and especially how this can be put into practice, was highlighted.
Three presenters shared their experiences with intersectoral working in school and community settings and on implementation. Bonnie van Dongen (Assistant Professor, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) presented the outcomes of her PhD study on ‘building community capacity as a strategy for sustainable implementation of Health Promoting Schools in the Netherlands. In the talk of Patty Scholten (manager Healthy Communities, JOGG, Netherlands) she presented the holistic approach based on health in and for all policies in local communities. Local JOGG coordinators build a network, with a focus on shared ownership. Finally Ingrid Stegeman (programme manager EuroHealthNet) highlighted some of the EuroHealthNet projects on linking health and education, for example the recently started ‘Schools4Health’ project.
Health and education seem so aligned, yet they operate so separately. It requires leadership from governments and organisations and well-informed, committed people. One of the conclusions after the lively discussion with participants, led by Prof Stef Kremers (professor of Health promotion, vice-dean Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University), was that effective cooperation between the two sectors all relies on good communication and using the right terminology. As one of the presenters said: ‘ don’t be afraid to try, embrace complexity and uncertainty’. The vision and work of the UNESCO Chair on Global Health & Education which focuses on bringing the health and education sectors together on a global level, was briefly highlighted by Goof Buijs (manager UNESCO Chair).