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Jan 25, 2024

My Unforgettable EUVP Experience: Exploring EU Health Initiatives

Photo of Dr. ChoudhuryIn March 2023 I had the incredible honor of attending the European Union Visitors Programme (EUVP) in Brussels, Paris, and Luxembourg. This two-week trip gave me lifelong memories from exploring iconic sites with fellow colleagues to meeting EU health officials and learning about key policies up close.


Having worked extensively in health policy research in India and now pursuing a Master's in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, this EUVP trip greatly enriched my relevant knowledge. Learning first-hand about major EU health initiatives, collaborations, and priorities added crucial context and examples that build on my previous work and studies. Interacting with officials driving these efforts rather than just reading about them brought the topics to life in a profound way.

One highlight was learning about the European Joint Programme on Rare Diseases (EJP RD), which facilitates partnerships between over 130 organizations across 35 countries. This coordinated approach unites research, care, and medical innovation to improve rare disease outcomes. After coming back from my trip I immediately visited Indian Council of Medical Research, Delhi and initiated dialogue with the EJP RD towards joining this network. The efforts are ongoing and if realized, it would be a major milestone uniting Indian and EU researchers tackling rare diseases.

The trip was filled with eye-opening meetings that gave me perspective into EU health priorities. A highlight was breakfast with the Head of the Health Security Unit in the European Commission Directorate General for Health (DG SANTE), where we discussed EU coordination on issues like antimicrobial resistance and pandemic preparedness. I also had an engaging lunch with DG SANTE Adviser for International Relations, about prevention strategies for non-communicable diseases where he emphasized lifestyle changes and traditional medicine. Other standouts included fascinating presentation from an EU Colleague working in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) on using virtual human twins in healthcare, and an in-depth discussion on rare diseases policy with an EU Colleagues from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD).

I also met with rare disease advocacy powerhouse EURORDIS and its passionate team. Additionally, I learned about international cooperation priorities from the Senior Health Policy Officer at DG RTD and had a pleasant and productive conversation while walking around Brussels together with a Colleague from the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Partnerships. The trip culminated in a diplomatic dinner in Paris with Deputy Director in the French Interior Ministry, who graciously hosted our cohort.

A highlight of the entire trip was visiting the Jean Monnet house in Bazoches/Houjarray, France. This is where Jean Monnet conceived the ideas that led to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the precursor to today’s European Union. Standing in the very rooms where reconciliations between France and Germany took place after years of animosity was profoundly moving. It brought into sharp focus the power of nations coming together in service of economic and social good. Of course, the substance of meetings was enriched by meaningful bonds with fellow EUVP participants from Singapore, Montenegro, the U.S., Lebanon.

Attending the EUVP was deeply affirming on professional and personal levels. As health challenges increasingly transcend borders, international cooperation is essential for safeguarding global welfare. Programs fostering connections between health stakeholders have never been more important.

Programs like the EUVP foster meaningful connections across borders, bringing inspiring ideas and fruitful collaborations. I'm grateful I got to discover inspiring initiatives alongside Belgian frites and Parisian pastries! This trip gave me warm memories and a refreshed conviction to enhance healthcare access locally and globally.

By Dr. Mohua Chakraborty Choudhury
MPH Student - Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
Visiting Scholar - Centre for Policy Research- Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru
Honorary Associate - Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru