Want to have a say in European health policy? Take our survey
Each Thursday for five weeks, a series of surveys on irishtimes.com will give you a chance to help direct health policy
There will be questions about major societal problems such as diabetes
How long a life do you expect to have? What might you do to extend this? How safe is your food and how much confidence do you have in policy-makers when it comes to your health and wellbeing?
This morning sees the launch of an EU initiative that will allow the general public to have their say on medical research and the provision of medical treatment.
Their wishes and concerns will be relayed back to scientists and those controlling national health budgets, giving the public a direct say in how health services are delivered.
The initiative is called REISearch and is designed to provide a bridge between citizens, researchers and policy-makers. It will yield hard evidence that can help inform decisions that will affect our lives in the future.
“REISearch is a great tool to connect these and begin a public discourse on health,” says Erika Widegren, the chairman of the advisory board for the initiative.
Engaging citizensThe public’s wishes are seldom heard by the people making decisions about health provision, but now ordinary citizens will have a chance to reach policy-makers, she says.
The goal is to engage the experience and concerns of the people in the debate, says Dr Fiorenza Lipparini, project manager for REISerch.
Funding is provided by the EU, and REISearch is organised by Atomium – European Institute for Science, Media and Democracy.
Starting from today and over the next four weeks, people will be encouraged to take part in a short online questionnaire, where they will be asked their views on the central theme: chronic diseases.
There will be questions about citizens’ rights and about access to advanced treatments, along with questions about major societal problems such as diabetes and about “big data” and how it could be used to deal with chronic diseases.
“It will help inform what people and researchers think is important in chronic diseases,” Dr Lipparini says. These views in turn will be help to ensure that public policy aligns with the public’s wishes.
“This is the first such initiative of its size and is an important opportunity to know what people think,” she says.
Take the surveyThe initial survey is being launched this week in 12 EU countries, including Ireland. There is a single media partner in each country, a role played in Ireland by The Irish Times.
Each Thursday for five weeks there will be a new set of questions on irishtimes.com focusing on chronic diseases.
“We are hoping to sample the views of at least 50,000 people and possibly more,” Dr Lipparini says.
These will then be collated, and a report on the findings will be presented to the EU Commission and the EU Parliament in April.
“REISearch provides the right kind of genuine push towards stronger evidence-based policy-making, more informed citizens and better science,” says Xavier Prats Monné, director general for health and food security in the European Commission.
It is expected that success in this first sampling of public opinion on chronic diseases will expand into new topic areas of interest to policy, science and society as it develops.
“Innovation and new scientific discoveries are improving people’s lives and making our economy more competitive,” said president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (Former president of France and honorary president of Atomium.) It was important that science should be open and freed from its ivory tower to be discussed by people and fed with new perspectives from all sources, he on the launch of REISearch.
“REISearch wants to successfully overcome the challenge of connecting the experience of EU citizens and the expertise of EU researchers to support policy makers in taking decisions that will affect society as a whole,” said Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, president of Atomium. Citizens of the EU will be able to interact directly with researchers at national and European level, he said when welcoming the initiative.
To take part in the first REISearch survey, go to irishtimes.com/science and click on the tile