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ASPHER is the key independent European organisation dedicated to strengthening the role of public health by improving education and training of public health professionals for both practice and research.
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Member's blog - Other

Some highlights of the ASPHER year 2022

Publication date: 22.12.2022
Author: John Middleton

There are two kinds of public health - the health of the public, and the public health profession, service and system. The health of the public is everybody’s business - it requires multi- disciplinary and multi-agency action from all corners of society and it requires trust and cooperation with the public themselves. It is ‘everybody’s business’, but nobody does it, without the efforts of public health professionals, public health services and a public health system. We are the conductors of the orchestra, or the grit in the oyster, or the catalyst for action… 2022 has been a terrible year for the health of the public. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed nearly 7 million lives so far with many more unaccounted and perhaps 20 million as a central estimate of excess deaths. The Russian aggression against the Ukraine has caused immense suffering in Ukraine, massive displacement of refugees and global problems of energy shortage, inflation and food shortages, threatening mass starvation in parts of the world like the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. European countries been hit by spiralling inflation, energy shortages, social care challenges for their residents and refugee populations, health care systems are under intense pressure in many parts of the continent, and climate breakdown has been witnessed in the form of wildfires which have burned the equivalent of three Luxembourgs worth of land mass. As public health educators all we can do is train our people to be effective operators against the massed array of health threats. It is all anyone can do to ensure the best possible actions to produce and improve the public health professionals who will serve us in the coming years. ASPHER colleagues have continued to undertake great and selfless work over 2022, professionally, calmly, unnoticed, and uncelebrated, going about the business of training and education. So we present here some highlights of how ASPHER has sought to help its members, advance the quality and quantity of excellent training, with the aim of improving and protecting the health of people and planet. 

1. ASPHER European and Global professionalization and workforce capacity development

In February ASPHER joined with WHO Europe to launch the Road Map for Professionalization. We particularly thank Kasia Czabanovska and Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat WHO EURO, for their efforts in bringing this to fruition. Our professionalization task force is beginning to set out a strategic agenda we hope European countries and schools of public health will join in and develop strongly.  

World Health Organization European Office and Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER). Roadmap to Professionalizing the Public Health Workforce in the European Region. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2022. 

Kasia and John Middleton have also recently published in the UK Faculty of Public Health 50th anniversary celebration supplement of the Journal of Public Health

Czabanowska K, Middleton J. Professionalism of the public health workforce – how to make it happen? Journal of Public Health, Volume 44, Issue Supplement_1, November 2022, Pages i54–i59,

ASPHER and the Global Network for Academic Public Health (GNAPH) have also been key members and drivers of the WHO Headquarters Steering group work on another roadmap, National workforce capacity to implement the essential public health functions including a focus on emergency preparedness and response: roadmap for aligning WHO and partner contributions. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2022. 

The Steering group for this road map was convened in Geneva October 17-19 with John Middleton contributing for ASPHER. Here with Dr Tedros DG WHO, Laura Magana ASPPH, and Fatai Ogunlayi UK Faculty of Public Health. His report back is here: Reflections from Geneva: Steering group meeting for the road map at WHO. ASPHER members blog  (07.11.2022). 

2. ASPHER competency development 

In February, ECDC published the Core Competencies in Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology in Europe. This was commissioned from ASPHER and was a two-year labour of love by Mary Codd from University College Dublin, with the support of ASPHER colleagues and an extraordinary effort from our Secretariat. The competencies are strongly recommended not just for European schools but more widely. 

The wider review of our core curriculum guidelines was launched at the Sofia Dean’s Retreat in October. Please contact Mary if you have ideas about this work. We intend to launch the revised curriculum in Dublin at the 2023 Dean’s Retreat. 

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Core competencies in applied infectious disease epidemiology in Europe. Stockholm: ECDC; 2022. ISBN 978-92-9498-570-5

News item | Self-assessment tool | Main page

3. ASPHER young professionals 

Ines Siepmann, our executive board young professional member, has continued to lead our expanding group of excellent young professionals in a range of activities through the year. Our ASPHER Fellows have been doing great work - Rana Orhan and Tara Chen on climate change education and Karl Conyard on the curriculum review. We have Associate Fellows firmly established now in the work of ASPHER also among the group - Rok Hrzic (Maastricht, The Netherlands: COVID task force data and digital competencies review), Karen Dopelt (Negev, Israel: social involvement role of schools), Lisa Wandschneider (Bielefeld, Germany: diversity and intersectionality competencies and conflict and public health programme).

Outstanding ASPHER YP events of the year: 

  • The ASPHER ASSETS meeting in Brussels in July, expertly mentored and facilitated by Jose Martin-Moreno.

  • The Young Researchers Forums, in Bled, Slovenia in June with winner Dennis Wienand, from University of Vienna, Austria; and Berlin, Berlin in November with winner Iris Ganser, University of Bordeaux, France & McGill University, Canada.

Tara Chen was outstanding as a moderator for the ASPHER-led EPH 2022 Conference plenary.

 4. ASPHER COVID task force 

The ASPHER COVID-19 task force has continued to meet weekly. It passed its 100th meeting in 2022. In March we thanked ASPHER members for their commitment during the pandemic. Nadav Davidovitch took over from John Middleton, as chair of the task force in February and has served us with distinction. 

Nadav and Rok successfully led a European Public Health session on the working of the task force in November.

Key papers produced by the task force in 2022: 

Lopes H, McCallum A, Martin-Moreno JM, Middleton J. Invest in primary healthcare and public health for the pandemic and beyond. BMJ 2022;376:o425. 

Hrzic R, Peixoto VR, Mason-Jones A, McCallum A. Is it really time to ditch the mask? BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 11 May 2022) 

Middleton J, Davidovitch N, Barros H, Lopes H, Moreno JMM, Mason-Jones AJ, McCallum A, Reid J, Reintjes R, Sheek-Hussein M, Simon J, Wong BLH, Leighton L, Otok R and ASPHER (2022) ASPHER Statement: Planning for Winter 2022-23. 

Hrzic R, Davidovitch N, Barros H, Lopes H, Moreno JMM, Mason-Jones, AJ, McCallum A, Reid J, Reintjes R, Sheek-Hussein M, Simon J, Wong, BLH, Leighton L, Otok R, Middleton J, and ASPHER (2022) ASPHER Statement: Facing the Fourth Winter of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Public Health Rev

5. War, conflict and public health task force 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stimulated a renewed requirement to educate ourselves and our students about war, violence, and public health. This has been strongly led for ASPHER by Bielefeld through Oliver Razum, Lisa Wandschneider and Yudit Namer. As Samer Jabour pointed out in our first seminar on Public Health in Times of War series, it should not have taken that conflict to stimulate our concern and action. War continues to be a major cause of poor health, death and disability; it causes prolonged and inter-generational harms to physical and mental health and destroys societies, environments and economies. It also alerted us to the need to understand how weapons of war impact on the human body and influence the need to plan for conflict. 

ASPHER’s diversity and intersectionality agenda is a key element for prevention of injustice and unfairness, key drivers in themselves for conflict. We will publish this work in the first part of 2023. Our commitment to an ethical framework and values, for public health teaching and practice; not the least of these values is a commitment to peace and non-violence. This will also be published in 2023.

Key actions in the year: 

ASPHER’s statement on the role of Europe’s schools of public health in times of war was produced in a timely and impactful way - and was adopted by the Global Network for Academic Public Health: 

Wandschneider L, Namer Y, Davidovitch N, Nitzan D, Otok R, Leighton L. Signorelli C, Middleton J, Martin-Moreno JM, Chambaud L, Lopes L, Razum O. The Role of Europe’s Schools of Public Health in Times of War: ASPHER Statement on the War Against Ukraine.  

The War conflict and public health task force ASPHER web page:

War in Ukraine and public health. Gdansk, Poland conference, May 20th 2022.
Available to watch here

The Bielefeld-ASPHER series of webinars: ‘Public Health in Times of War’: series 1 and series 2.

President’s Spring message, War in Europe | And in ASPHER’s Spring newsletter.

6. Climate change and health education

ASPHER’s climate and health education Fellows, Tara Chen and Rana Orhan have been doing brilliant work in the year. We saw climate breakdown first hand, again, this summer; parts of Europe experienced their hottest days ever, and more than 3 Luxembourgs worth of forest fires raged across the continent. 


Getting the European Health Policy Platform statement on climate change and health education agreed and launched in the European Parliament in May by the ASPHER President. Formal ASPHER launch by Rana as part of the ASSETS event July, and EPH workshop November.  

Moving towards the right to ‘health for all’ by training the public health and wider health workforce on climate change and health:  Joint statement by the EU HPP’s thematic network “Climate action through public health education and training” statement.

ASPHER is also now a partner in the European Climate and Health Observatory, overseen by EC DGs SANTE and CLIMA. John Middleton chaired the launch of a major report on climate, infectious disease and heatwave in November and he and Laurent Chambaud, new ASPHER Climate and Health Education Lead, attended the European Observatory meeting in December.   

Chen T, Middleton J. President’s summer message July 2022. Blog. Groundhog day: climate change is with us again.,4,149.html

7. ASPHER partnership business 

We continue to build our relationship with EUPHA in accordance with our joint memorandum of 2021.

We have been active in European Public Health Week in May, in the launch meeting, and meetings on SEEEPHI and climate change education. We were also active in EPH Conference 2022 Berlin in November. We led with the European Health Management Association, on the plenary, sustaining high quality care: interprofessional training for our clinical and public health workforce.

Key EUPHA partnership efforts:

ASPHER-EUPHA joint message to members March 18th 2022, marking their commitment and hard work over 2 years of pandemic

EUPHA, ASPHER, UKFPH. Butcher F, Schroeder-Beck P, Tahzib F. Variability in public health ethics education across Europe. Foreward, endorsement and support.

European Public Health News, European Journal of Public Health, Volume 32, Issue 5, October 2022, Pages 834–839,  jm page 836-837.

In 2023, we will be seeking to formalise a new working partnership with EUPHA, EPHA and other European health partners.

8. ASPHER conference business 

Sofia Deans’ and Directors’ Retreat was the first in person meeting since 2019 and was judged by all to be an extremely successful and rewarding event. The social programme was outstanding also, with an enlightening visit to Plovdiv. Thank you to Bulgarian hosts: Dean Tzekomir Vodenicharov, Karolina Lybomirova and everyone from the Faculty of Public Health, Medical University of Sofia.

As we mention elsewhere, ASPHER was well in evidence at Berlin European Public Health Conference, 09-12 November 2022.

And we look to the World Congress of Public Health May 2nd -6th 2022, for which ASPHER, on behalf of the Global Network for Academic Public Health, is one of the organising partners with the World Federation of Public Health and the Italian Society for Public health and Hygiene. 

9. ASPHER governance 

ASPHER continues to develop, strengthening its services to members, increasing its membership, securing its financial base, implementing its new statutes, and planning and implementing new initiatives, projects and bids. 

At Sofia Deans’ and Directors’ Retreat, October, Carlo Signorelli, Dean of the School of Public Health, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan, took over the mantle as President of ASPHER. 

The outgoing president lists these achievements on behalf of ASPHER members: 

Outcomes for the General Assembly May 2022

Outcomes of JM presidency, October 2022. European Public Health News, EJPH, Vol 32, Issue 5, October 2022, 834–839,  Middleton J pages 836-837. 

President’s final message. The reign has ended. ASPHER member blog. 

Thanks go to all ASPHER Executive Board and to the ASPHER secretariat for their continuing commitment and hard work. 

Great thanks also to Jose Martin-Moreno, the outgoing Co-chair of the Honours Committee.

Congratulations to Laurent Chambaud, as recipient of the 2022 ASPHER Andria Stampar Medal, and thanks to him for taking on the role of ASPHER Climate and Health Education Lead. 

Left: Laurent Chambaud with President Carlo Signorelli, Vice President John Miiddleton and Henrique Barros, presenter of the Laudatio.

Many congratulations also to 2022 ASPHER Research Excellence Award winner - Nadav Davidovitch, to 2022 ASPHER Teaching & Practice Excellence Award winner - Institute of Public Health, Jagiellonian University, and to 2022 ASPHER Early Career Excellence Award winners: Keren Dopelt and Rok Hrzic!

10. Happy birthdays

Escola Nationale Salud Publica, ENSP, The Mexican School of Public Health, 100 years old a celebratory publication here:

and an ASPHER contribution here: 

Middleton J. Tradition, leadership and innovation in public health education. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of ESPM. Salud Publica Mex. 2022; 64: 606-611.;

The United Kingdom Faculty of Public Health, 50 years old, a celebratory publication here:

and an ASPHER contribution here: 

Czabanowska K, Middleton J, Professionalism of the public health workforce – how to make it happen? Journal of Public Health, Volume 44, Issue Supplement_1, November 2022, Pages i54–i59,

And Louis Pasteur, 200 years old on December 27th 2022.

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