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World-first academies launch in Wales to drive global health-care revolutions

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Wales has become the first country in the world to launch specialised Intensive Learning Academies (ILAs) that will deliver transformational training and support across preventative health, Value-Based Health and Care, and innovations in health and social care.

Welsh universities have created a range of flexible courses that include degree-level opportunities within these growing fields. They are open for professionals from the health and social care, and life sciences sectors across the globe to learn together. 

Led by Swansea University and Bangor University, the ILAs are also delivering research and tailor-made consultancy services. This will support individual organisations to identify, develop and collaborate on innovative practices that will help to meet the challenges facing health and social care.

Applications are now open for the bespoke programmes, with more information available on the Life Sciences Hub Wales website. The courses, some of which can be accessed remotely, will train and prepare the next generation of global leaders in building future health and social care systems.

The academies will cater to the international demand from professional learners in the UK, Europe and further afield. This will help to further advance Wales’ position as a world leader in health and social care innovation and leadership in practice.

The three ILAs will commence activities across 2021, with each specializing in a subject identified as a key future growth area for the global health and social care markets:

  • The ‘Value-Based Health and Care Academy’ developed at Swansea University offers educational courses, research opportunities, and consultancy services for Value-Based Health and Care.
  • With a focus on prevention, Bangor University’sALPHAcademy will provide opportunities to support and develop leaders who are able to think with a cross sector and service perspective, and deliver change with firm knowledge and wide networks.
  • The ‘All-Wales Academy for Innovation in Health & Social Care’ a collaboration between Swansea University, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Cardiff University, and the Bevan Commission – is focussing on innovation and transformation within health and social care.

The goal is to empower workforces around the globe with the expertise, skills, and confidence to drive the redesign of health and care systems for the better, improving patient outcomes and experiences, while boosting the efficiency and sustainability of services.

All courses will welcome applicants working across global health, social care, and life sciences systems. There are ILA scholarships available for those working within the health, social care and third sector within Wales and internationally, and for those who wish to retrain to join the sector.

Each academy is offering a range of full-time and flexible part-time tuition programmes. Qualifications will include Executive Education level CPD, Postgraduate Certificates, Diplomas, and Masters. Selected academies are also providing candidates with Doctorate-level opportunities.

Training learners from industry, health, and social care together will encourage cross-sector innovation and collaboration. This will allow the co-development of valuable skills and partnerships to support transformative health and social care.

Professor Hamish Laing, director of the Value-Based Health and Care Academy, said: “The Value-Based Health and Care Academy is part of a developing international network, providing high quality education, collaborative research and consultancy to support the understanding and implementation of Value-Based Health and Care in the UK and countries across the globe.”

Professor Nichola Callow, Pro-VC Learning and Teaching at Bangor University, said: “Securing our nation's health requires a significant and sustained effort to prevent illness and support good physical and mental health. Prevention is about helping people stay healthy, happy, and independent for as long as possible. We know that prevention works and can provide significant social benefits, which in turn can boost the health of our economy in a virtuous cycle.

"Greater investment in prevention and in developing the skills and expertise needed to drive change will therefore have profound benefits across Wales. These innovative academies will offer exciting opportunities for leaders and aspiring leaders from across sectors to learn by doing, and to establish new ways of evidence-based working and collaboration.”

Len Richards, chief executive, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “Through a broad range of courses and resources, in collaboration with international partners, the ILA will support current and future generations of leaders, equipping them with the knowledge and skills required to innovate through the challenges we face post-COVID and beyond for health and social care to the benefit of citizens across Wales."

Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales, said: “Life Sciences Hub Wales is delighted to be supporting with the promotion of the ILAs. These dedicated academies are a world first and we are immensely proud that Wales is pioneering the way forward in such important fields. Value-Based Health and Care, and preventative health are set to be major growth areas within health and social care, so it’s imperative that our future leaders develop these crucial skills and knowledge.

“Ongoing innovation is essential to ensuring a pipeline of ground-breaking discoveries and developments. By uniting health and industry professionals and encouraging them to learn and work together, these academies will establish a foundation for sustainable and collaborative innovation for years to come.”

More information on the new Academies can be found here.

coronavirus

EU has not yet ordered more AstraZeneca vaccines, says internal market commissioner

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Syringes are prepared to administer the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a new mass vaccination centre in WiZink sports arena in Madrid, Spain, April 9, 2021. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

The European Union has not yet made any new orders for AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccines beyond June when their contract ends, European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton (pictured) said on Sunday (9 May).

Breton also said he expected that the costs of the EU’s recent order for more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech (PFE.N) vaccines would be higher than the earlier versions.

The Commission last month launched legal action against AstraZeneca for not respecting its contract for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and for not having a “reliable” plan to ensure timely deliveries.

"We did not renew the order after June. We’ll see what happens," said Breton, adding that it was "a very good vaccine".

Concerns has risen on potential side-effects of the Anglo-Swedish COVID-19 vaccine.

Europe's medicines regulator said on Friday it is reviewing reports of a rare nerve-degenerating disorder in people who received the shots, a move that comes after it found the vaccine may have caused very rare blood clotting cases. Read more.

Breton said an increase in prices for second generation vaccines could be justified by the extra research required and potential changes to industrial equipment.

The European Union signed a new contract with Pfizer-Biontech to receive 1.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 2021-2023, to cover booster shots, donations and reselling of doses, the European Commission said on Friday (7 May). Read more.

“There may be a little extra cost but I will let the competent authorities unveil it in due course,” he told France Inter radio.

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Hoping to lure back tourists, Greece reopens beaches after lockdown

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With widely spaced sun loungers and regular disinfections, Greece reopened its organised beaches on Saturday as the popular Mediterranean holiday destination eases COVID-19 curbs in preparation for the return of foreign visitors this week.

Tourism accounts for about a fifth of Greece's economy and jobs, and - after the worst year on record for the industry last year - the country can ill afford another lost summer. Read more

"We're pinning our hopes on tourism," said Nikos Venieris, who manages a sandy beach in the seafront suburb of Alimos, just outside the capital, Athens, where social distancing measures will remain in place.

"We're one of the places along the Athens riviera ... that receives many tourists so the number of visitors from abroad will play a big role in our finances," he added.

Under current measures, beach managers like Venieris will have to place umbrellas at least four metres (13 feet), carry out regular disinfections and test beach bar employees and other staff for COVID-19.

People enjoy the sun during the official reopening of beaches to the public, following the easing of measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, May 8, 2021. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
People enjoy the sea during the official reopening of beaches to the public, following the easing of measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, May 8, 2021. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Greece fared well in keeping the first wave of the pandemic under control last year but a resurgence in cases pushed health services to the limit and prompted authorities to impose a second lockdown in November.

As infections have fallen and vaccinations gathered pace, authorities have steadily eased restrictions, opening bars and restaurants earlier this week.

On Friday, they announced that museums would reopen next week before the lifting of travel restrictions on vaccinated foreign visitors on May 15.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said a combination of widespread testing, immunisation, and the fact that many activities would take place outdoors gave authorities confidence that tourists would be able to visit safely.

For Greek beach lovers, Saturday's reopening of the country's largest beaches was a chance to let off steam after months of lockdown.

"We've been longing for this for six months now, because we're winter swimmers and we've really missed it," said Spiros Linardos, a pensioner, reclining on a sun lounger at Alimos.

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EU calls on US and others to export their vaccines

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during the opening ceremony of an EU summit at the Alfandega do Porto Congress Center in Porto, Portugal May 7, 2021. Luis Vieira/Pool via REUTERS

The European Commission called on Friday (7 May) on the United States and other major COVID-19 vaccine producers to export what they make as the European Union does, rather than talk about waiving intellectual property rights to the shots.

Commission head Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference on the sidelines of a summit of EU leaders that discussions on the waiver would not produce a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the short- to medium-term.

"We should be open to lead this discussion. But when we lead this discussion, there needs to be a 360 degree view on it because we need vaccines now for the whole world," she said.

"The European Union is the only continental or democratic region of this world that is exporting at large scale," von der Leyen said.

She said about 50% of European-produced coronavirus vaccine is exported to almost 90 countries, including those in the World Health Organization-backed COVAX program.

"And we invite all those who engage in the debate of a waiver for IP rights also to join us to commit to be willing to export a large share of what is being produced in that region," she said.

Only higher production, removing exports barriers and the sharing of already-ordered vaccines could immediately help fight the pandemic quickly, she said.

"So what is necessary in the short term and the medium term: First of all vaccine sharing. Secondly export of vaccines that are being produced. And the third is investment in the increasing of the capacity to manufacture vaccines."

Von der Leyen said the European Union had started its vaccine sharing mechanism, citing delivery of 615,000 doses to the Western Balkans as an example.

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