Earlier this month, two members of the ELF Council, Kate Hill and Kjeld Hansen, went to Malta to deliver taster sessions of the European Patient Ambassador Programme. Read Kate’s report below.
As part of their event programme linked to Patient Solidarity Day (2 December 2017) and their 10th anniversary, the Malta Health Network (MHN) invited representatives from ELF to present the European Patient Ambassador Programme (EPAP) to their members.
Myself, Kate Hill, a member of the original EPAP development team, and Kjeld Hansen, the current EPAP Representative to the ELF Council, were duly tasked to deliver the sessions.
MHN is an independent, voluntary body which represents the interests of 30 patient, carer and professional organisations in Malta, the EU and internationally. Their invitation was of particular interest to both ELF and EPAP, as it opened opportunities for ELF to create closer connections with a European country that we have previously not interacted with as much as we would like. And, for EPAP, it opened new possibilities to involve patients and patient groups with fresh perspectives on what it means to be a patient representative.
Our expectations were not disappointed. An attentive and interested audience, made up of representatives from patient organisations linked to MHN, local community leaders and medical specialists, assembled at 6.00pm to listen to our overview of patient and public involvement. We went on to explain how EPAP can support patients to be more effective in engagement and involvement roles. The introductory session was very well received and some lively and positive discussion ensued. After the presentation, MHN gave a reception for attendees and we enjoyed wine, canapes and pasta in a lovely setting, overlooking St Julian’s Bay. At this time of year the bay is surrounded by Christmas lights that sparkle in the night sky and produce multi-coloured reflections in the dark sea-water.
The next morning took us to the Life Sciences Park for an 8.00am start. We had an amazing turnout despite the early hour, and a different audience made up of patients and healthcare professionals. Kjeld and I delivered the EPAP introductory session again to a remarkably responsive and interactive group. After a short break, we went through the whole of EPAP Module 1: Getting Started in real time, thanks to Kjeld’s IT skills and high tech laptop! We were once again rewarded by our highly motivated group who gave us some great feedback and helpful comments on the programme.
During the morning we had some distinguished visitors. Hon Dr Clifton Grima, the Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisations, came to address the assembly at the start of the day. Shortly before lunch, Dr Deo Debattista, Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Protection and Valetta 2018, and Professor Anthony Serracino Inglott, Chairperson of the Malta Medicines Authority, came to present the deserving attendees with their EPAP Taster Session certificates.
It was a busy schedule for Kjeld and me but every moment was worthwhile and, we believe, it was a highly successful visit. We look forward to welcoming a whole new contingent of EPAP registrants from Malta in the near future. Thank you to everyone at MHN and the people who gave up their time to come to the sessions, we hope you enjoyed them as much as we did.
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