Coronavirus (272) Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER)

31 March, 2020

(with thanks to Alberto Fernandez, lead moderator for HIFA-Spanish)

CITATION: Middleton, J., Martin-Moreno, J.M., Barros, H. et al. ASPHER statement on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak emergency. Int J Public Health (2020).


ASPHER, as Europe’s representative organisation for Schools of Public Health, calls on all countries to strengthen the role and resources available to the WHO and to align with WHO policies. ASPHER supports sustaining and strengthening the ECDC mandate for international action. ASPHER calls on Europe’s governing bodies, the European Commission and individual countries: to recognize the specific expertise of public health professionals involving them in decision-making to effectively coordinate European and in-country action; to invest adequate funding and resources in health systems, essential public health operations, planning and preparedness; and to include health in all policies.

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis will not be our last, laying bare the urgency of a strong and concerted effort to cultivate training, research and capacity in public health in order to develop and maintain a prepared cadre of public health experts and professionals. It is necessary to emphasize public health approaches and knowledge in other professions, bolstering multi-professional teams and cross-discipline collaboration. Moreover, the level of individual responsibility needed to comply with containment measures, emphasizes the requirement for a population that is health literate and the urgency to combat misinformation. Schools of Public Health promote multidisciplinary approaches, exchange knowledge of practice and public policies, and engage with European and international networks. Schools of Public Health have expertise to prepare public health leadership in how to organise and manage health care systems, in health protection and disease prevention, and in public communication. Whether dealing with an emergency pandemic, long-term threats such as climate change and regional insecurity, or routine measures to protect the public’s health, we need such competencies. However, too often in the past, resources for public health training and education have been eroded or neglected leading to a poor state of preparedness and weakened response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

ASPHER calls for an allocation of resources toward specific emergency training on COVID-19 and for a renewed long-term investment in public health education and training at all levels.

ASPHER is committed to stand with, reinforce and coordinate the efforts of our over 100 member schools and programmes of public health across the European region and beyond to invigorate and strengthen the field of public health for the good of the people we serve.

COMMENT (Neil PW): We stand in solidarity with ASPHER and WHO, and re-emphasise the importance of public health, health literacy, and protection from misinformation. HIFA is proud to have schools of public health among our supporting organisations and we welcome others to join us (without financial obligation) With minimal financial support, HIFA and other global health communities have the potential to play an increasingly important role to 'promote multidisciplinary approaches, exchange knowledge of practice and public policies, and engage with European and international networks'.

It is translated to French and Portuguese here:

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Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: