AHEAD – Action for Health and Equity – Addressing Medical Deserts

The Project AHEAD will address the challenge of medical deserts and medical desertification in Europe in an effort to help reduce health inequalities. The Project’s objective is to provide support to policy makers in selected Member States and other eligible countries to define, design and implement evidence-based and context-specific reforms in the health workforce field that specifically aim to counteract and/or prevent medical deserts. The approach applied in this Project will build knowledge, encourage (digital) innovation in health service delivery to improve access and apply a participatory approach to public health policy making. The Project will be carried out in Romania, Serbia, Moldova, Italy and the Netherlands and will benefit health policy makers, patients’ organizations, health professionals’ organisations, affected communities and more. The countries were carefully selected to highlight different manifestations of medical deserts and to address interconnectedness as a result of health worker mobility. Activities include: desk research; participatory action research; multi-stakeholder consensus building dialogues; high-level policy dialogues at national and EU level. The dissemination of the Projects’ knowledge products and best practices is a cross-cutting activity, aiming to also inspire duty bearers outside the Project. The consortium will produce several deliverables: policy briefs; a set of contextualized and feasible policy solutions to address medical deserts in the countries; an improved definition and taxonomy of medical deserts; a medical deserts diagnostic monitoring tool; a prototype for a medical deserts visual mapping tool; a tested and replicable approach for participatory health policy making. Our ultimate impact at society and EU level is better access to health services, especially in underserved areas, and more equitable access to sufficient, skilled and motivated health workers, starting with the countries involved in the Project.