Borders and viruses, and how to deal with those

How do public health professionals manage Infectious Disease Control (IDC) in a very dynamic and densely populated Euregion such as the Euregion Meuse-Rhine with its active social life across the borders? That is what Dr. Alena Kamenshchikova and her colleagues wanted to find out. From December 2020 until April 2021, they investigated the way Euregional public health professionals in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands tried to control COVID-19. Main conclusions: institutional investments in systemic cross border public health collaborations are necessary. It is crucial to take into account the experience and expertise of public health professionals working in border regions. Their expertise is unique and can be quite different from actions proposed at the national policy level. Alena Kamenshchikova reached these conclusions from in-depth expert interviews with public health professionals in all three countries.

Which professionals did you approach for the interviews?
“We spoke with people who were directly and actively involved in the management of COVID-19. In total, we interviewed 27 professionals in three countries who worked in regional public health organisations, general practices, care for the elderly or social and safety care. Our main goal was to understand how IDC is organised in this Euregion, taking into account the close proximity to the border and the different policies in three countries. It was important to understand if being in a border region played a role in their daily activities, and whether there have been any collaborations across the borders. We are so grateful that these professionals took the time to speak with us in a period where they worked 24/7 to control COVID-19.”


Dr. Alena Kamenshchikova, assistant professor in the department of Health Ethics and Society/CAPHRI, conducted this research in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Klasien Horstman, Prof. Dr. Christian Hoebe, and Lisa Diemingen, MSc.

The closed Dutch-Belgian border at Château Neercanne

Alena Kamenshchikova recently received the CAPHRI Dissertation Award and the Kootstra Talent Fellowship. She has now been awarded the Niels Stensen Fellowship, which will allow her to conduct research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine into cross-border infectious disease control between the UK and the EU. She will look into how data on infectious diseases is communicated between the two, and how commuters who need to frequently cross borders between the UK and the EU navigate different Covid-19 requirements.

‘UM & Europe’ in the spotlight
2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty; time to take stock of European integration. Moreover, a special conference on the future of Europe is scheduled in Maastricht from 11 to 13 February 2022. Plenty of reasons for the European university of the Netherlands to launch a new series of stories, and to publish an overview of all of our 'UM and Europe' information. Read more.

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