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Public Health

2021 EU Health Award - Winners and shortlisted

For the 2021 edition of the EU Health Award, the European Commission rewarded outstanding initiatives by NGOs (or other civil society organisations), and educational institutions seeking to promote communication and health literacy on cancer prevention among children and young people (from 6 to 24 years old) and community-based initiatives alleviating the mental health impact of COVID-19. 110 applications from 15 different EU countries were submitted and examined against the Award criteria.

The European Commission selected the shortlisted and winning initiatives based on an evaluation by a Jury composed of Commission officials and external high-level experts. As no submissions were received in the ‘city’ category for the Award on cancer prevention, this category was not awarded.

Have a look at the ceremony pictures

Watch the recording of the ceremony

Watch the Award Ceremony highlights video

Read the booklet of this edition

Watch the video presentations of the winners

Read the Flash report


Award on Cancer Prevention - NGOs category

1st Winner

George D. Behrakis Research Lab, Hellenic Cancer Society (Greece)


The SMOKE FREE GREECE initiative coordinates a series of actions aiming to reduce the use of tobacco products in Greece, with a special focus on youth. Investing in health education of school age children, SMOKE FREE GREECE has contributed in reducing overall smoking prevalence, and smoking initiation among adolescents in Greece.

Watch the video presentation of the project

2nd Winner

EVERYTHING for HER (Association of cancer affected and treated women) (Croatia)

Mom, be healthy

“Mom, be healthy“ is the Pink October project set up in 2017 to encourage healthy lifestyles and educate children aged 6 to 18 on cancer prevention through school activities, and to encourage their mothers, women of all ages, to regularly monitor breast health. During October 2021 it was implemented in 76 Croatian primary and high schools and 1 kindergarten and reached more than 27 000 students, their mothers and teachers.

The students personalised educational leaflets with their and their mother's names and gave them to their mothers with the message, “Mom, be healthy”.

Watch the video presentation of the project

3rd Winner

Loono (Czechia)

I touch them every month - Boobs and balls

Through the #boobsandballs project, a team of young doctors, medical students, and other specialists educate the public about oncological diseases, and prevention concerning breasts, testicles, cervix, skin, lungs, colon, and other organs. The project aims to show people the importance of prevention and stresses detecting the disease in the early stage for a successful treatment.

Workshops and webinars at schools, firms, festivals, and other social events are being organised, and online educational content, as well as educational materials to doctor’s practices and schools, are being produced in this respect.

Watch the video presentation of the project


KWF Dutch Cancer Society (The Netherlands)

A smoke-free world. Get used to it

During class, on TV, at the doctor, on the plane, at the sportsground. We thought it was completely normal, smoking. Until we found out what the tobacco industry has known for a long time. Smoking is addictive. And half of all smokers will die from it. This applies to children who start smoking, too.

That’s why it is important that more places become smoke-free. And that cigarettes become less readily available. Great news, more partners are joining our movement each day. This is how we protect our children. A smoke-free world. Get used to it!


LILT Milano Monza Brianza APS (Italy)

GOOD VIBES in Fifty Shades of Prevention

“Fifty Shades of Prevention” is a project by LILT consortium of 17 Italian charities to promote HPV vaccination, STD and health literacy among adolescents. It is an action research project carried out during the pandemic and focusing on two areas: school and Instagram. Students, teachers and parents are involved in online activities, whilst goodvibes.lilt remains the first Italian Instagram page by an Oncological Italian Institution to focus on HPV vaccination and healthy behaviour.

A survey was carried out and research results shared.


Stiftelsen Choice (Sweden)

Medical Students prevent cancer and unhealthy lifestyle through Choice education program among high school students

The Choice foundation works with medical students to reduce cancer risks and to increase young people’s knowledge about health to empower them to take control of their health and thereby lead healthier lives. This is done through preventive initiatives in high schools in which the medical students teach the high schoolers how the body functions and how its functions are affected by alcohol, narcotics and tobacco.

Most young people know that alcohol, narcotics and tobacco are health hazardous, but few know why they’re dangerous and how they can lead to cancer.


Award on Cancer Prevention - Educational Institutions category

1st Winner

Università degli Studi di Trieste (Italy)

CURIoSA – ComUnicaRe per crescere In SAlute / Communicate to grow healthy

The main objective of CURIoSA is to promote awareness of major risk factors in cancer and cardiovascular diseases among preadolescents and adolescents, using innovative and captivating communication tools. Six “discussion games” were created, played either in-person or online, with the aim to both increase knowledge and to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

In parallel, a cycle of interactive meetings was organised both in- person and in live streaming. A professional visual thinker and a cartoonist were recruited to design a comic strip summarising the main concepts.

Watch the video presentation of the project

2nd Winner

Secondary School of Bolesław Chrobry in Gniezno (Poland)

Mam haka na raka / Cancer conquered

For many years, high school students have been organizing the action "Cancer conquered", which aims to promote a healthy lifestyle, and above all, the promotion of cancer prevention among children and adolescents from the city of Gniezno. Moreover, the campaign, thanks to the organization of happenings on the city's market, is also aimed at the local community of all age categories.

Thanks to the implementation of this project, we want to increase people's awareness of cancer, and in particular prevention, pointing to the key role of the early diagnosis of cancer, increasing the possibility of curing and fully recovering.

Watch the video presentation of the project

3rd Winner

Instituto Piaget (Portugal)

Give a Stage to Health

“Give a Stage to Health” uses the Forum-theater (FT) technique as a social transformation methodology to improve the cancer literacy (CL) of school students. Comprehensive use of cognitive, social, and emotional skills helps identify and combat the “oppression” - low CL - that makes is difficult for individuals to manage their own health.

Debating ideas and action strategies for cancer prevention on stage stimulates the creation of a new narrative in a safe environment. The student-actors learn to think critically and creatively, to communicate and argue, which also influences the audience of the play.

Watch the video presentation of the project


School of Tourism, Catering and Trade, Pula (Croatia)

I’m a Young Tree / Ja sam mlado drvo

The initiative “I’m a young tree” contributes to improving health literacy on cancer prevention among high school students in Croatia and includes realistic and measurable performance indicators. The initiative’s activities encourage the development of functional health literacy, which is the basic knowledge and skills for effective coping in a healthy environment.

Individuals can take basic steps to mitigate cancer risk, so this initiative aims to promote the European Code Against Cancer (ECAC). The slogan is inspired by the natural cycle and mental balance that we should strive for as a society.


Secondary School in Marusevec (Croatia)

Prevent and be happy

Secondary school in Marusevec, Croatia, has an ongoing project in its yearly plan called "Prevent and be happy", intended both for the school and broader public. The students are encouraged to participate in health prevention activities both at school and out in the general public.

The activities are planned according to the WHO health calendar and the Croatian Institute of Public Health, and reflect "health days" themes and campaigns. These activities are mentored by teachers and carried out by students. The goal is to have mentored peer instruction, from students to students, and, if in public, among other generations.


6th Primary School Varaždin (Croatia)

Healthy week

6th Primary School Varaždin is committed to developing healthy habits and ecological way of thinking at students, parents, and the wider community to prevent serious deseases. With the "Healthy Week" project, we intend to unite all individual efforts with a simple goal: encourage students at 6th Primary School Varaždin to independently prepare healthy meals and everyday exercise and independence in doing chores.

The whole project is also of a competitive nature because at the end of the week, the best group of chefs and competitors in chores will be announced.


Award on Mental Health - Local authorities or affiliated organisations category

1st Winner

Azienda sanitaria ligure 2 (Italy)

Care of territorial health services in the covid-19 pandemic

Our initiative aims to promote mental health in an integrated way through prompt interception of women and families in early difficulty during the perinatal period. This community- based program, coordinated by the Community Centre of Asl 2, in synergy with family funds, was activated shortly after the outbreak of the COVID pandemic.

A multidisciplinary team provided: 1. home visiting and support of post-discharge covid-positive nuclei; 2. identification of women at psychosocial risk and treatment through; 3. identification and home educational support for "brief intervention" of fragile nuclei at risk.

Watch the video presentation of the project

2nd Winner

Councillor of Healthcare, Aging and Care - Barcelona (Spain)

The Suicide Prevention hotline

Our suicide prevention strategy launched in August of 2020 includes a hotline, developed together with the organization Ajuda i Esperança Foundation, and a support point for the people who are in the immediate environment of someone who has suicidal thoughts or who has died by committing suicide.

This strategy was developed in the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic and is part of the Mental Health Shock Plan 2020, that has been developed with the collaboration and approval of entities and organisations from the city that make up the Barcelona Mental Health Board.

Watch the video presentation of the project

3rd Winner

Intercommunale de Soins Spécialisés de Liège (Belgium)

Psychosocial support system for caregivers at the Psychiatric Hospital following the COVID crisis

In February 2020, psychosocial support was set up with hospital services at the ISoSL psychiatric hospital. The methodology used emphasized the positive strategies used during the crisis. The CITES aimed to highlight the creativity, skills and resources mobilized by the teams in adversity but also to recognize the real work, the work intelligence deployed in the face of dangers for them and for their patients.

This recognition of the collaborative practices used during the crisis has had an impact in terms of mental resilience, individually and collectively, and the skills and resources mobilized by the teams in adversity are reused in daily work.

Watch the video presentation of the project


City of Gent (Belgium)

Mobile community mental health workers

Promoting mental health is a key pillar of Ghent’s health policy. The COVID-19 pandemic increased challenges on mental health, especially in vulnerable neighbourhoods. Hence, Ghent invested in additional mobile mental health community workers to create a support base for people with mental health problems in 3 vulnerable neighbourhoods.

By proactively looking for citizens who otherwise remain under the radar of care providers, by building neighbourhood networks and strengthening referral systems on mental health, mobile mental health workers support people and front-line organisations, strengthen social inclusion, and fight mental health stigma.


Municipality of Metamorfosi (Greece)

Prevention of depression and loneliness of elderly people during COVID 19

The Covid-19 pandemic caused unprecedented situations for all and led to repeated lockdowns. In order to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on the elderly the Municipality of Metamorphosis:
• Created a network of regular telephone communication with older people for the recording of their needs and concerns.
• The programme “Help at Home” was strengthened and its action extended to elderly lonely people who needed help during the lockdown period.
• A collaboration between the City of Metamorfosis and civil society organisations launched a “Friendship at all ages” programme.


Municipality of Toulouse (France)


Action Suricate (meerkat) is a project that aims to care for young people and their mental health. The project has the following objectives: to provide young people with a space for discussion, inform them about mental health, present local and adapted resources, and guide those in need. The specificity of the project relies on peer-to-peer exchanges.

Young people working on the ground (public spaces or university campuses) are trained in advance, accompanied on the ground and overseen by a psychologist coordinating the project.


Award on Mental Health - NGOs or other not-for-profit organisations category

1st Winner

Geniko Nosokomeio Papageorgiou, 1st Psychiatric Clinic, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece)

Re-Cov-Er - Resilience in the COVID-era

Our aim was to develop integrated strategies to optimise mental health services during the pandemic and to use existing resources to achieve the greatest possible benefits. The main goal was to focus on enhancing resilience to prevent mental health deterioration. Situational analysis outlined that different groups were at risk: psychiatric patients, COVID-19 patients and their families, high vulnerability groups such as older adults, children and chronic patients and lastly healthcare professionals.

The project was designed based on four pillars: maintaining connectedness and practicing self-care; safety awareness and stress management/ relaxation techniques.

Watch the video presentation of the project

1st Winner

Rio Neiva - Environmental NGO (Portugal)

Green Hour - nature-based activities for an active ageing

The Green Hour project was specifically designed to alleviate the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely increased isolation and anxiety, by implementing and fostering regular nature-based activities targeting the senior population vulnerable groups of Esposende, Portugal (i.e. reduced mobility, dementia, Alzheimer, impaired vision etc.).

This initiative was implemented in 2021 by a community-level Environmental NGO, and in partnership with several local social charities. All activities were provided at no cost to all participants, and achieved considerable success and positive impact.

Watch the video presentation of the project

2nd Winner

AFYA - Verein zur interkulturellen Gesundheitsförderung (Austria)

Strengthening mental health in crisis

AFYA aims to develop, implement and transfer low-threshold, intercultural health promotion programmes with a specific focus on Trauma care. Mental health promoters from refugee or migrant communities are the key actors in AFYA programmes. Our approach is to strengthen health literacy, self-efficacy and coping strategies in order to deal with the consequences of post-migration stress and Trauma.

Programmes are designed to reach out to living or learning environments of the target population. Learning and reflection are part of AFYAs organisational culture.

Watch the video presentation of the project

2nd Winner

ANEPF - Association Nationale des Étudiants en Pharmacie de France (France)

ANEPF’s solidarity towards the mental health and precariousness of French pharmacy students

ANEPF has conducted several surveys regarding student well-being prior to Covid-19. Concerned about the impact of the pandemic on student mental health, ANEPF conducted a well-being survey to compare results.

The results highlighted the students’ mental distress, precariousness, and need for support. ANEPF has therefore implemented solutions to improve the mental health of students and fight against precariousness: punctual training and awareness related to mental health awareness, wellness week, punctual emergency aids.

Watch the video presentation of the project

3rd Winner

APAP - Associazione per lo studio della Psicologia Analitica e della Psicoterapia a orientamento junghiano (Italy)

Psychological assistance in primary care to counteract the psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 emergency: support to individuals, families, caregivers, and communities of help

Primary Care Psychology makes an important contribution to the clinical management of the COVID-19 emergency, provided by psychologists in collaboration with General Practitioners. The Association for the Study of Analytical Psychology and Jungian-oriented Psychotherapy, in synergy with the Local Health Authority ASL TO4 and in the framework of their Clinical-Psychological Center of Primary Care IPAP-ASL TO4 (Ivrea, Italy), supports the categories most at risk:

COVID-19 patients; family members and caregivers of COVID-19 patients; health care personnel engaged in pandemic management; and the broader population indirectly affected by the pandemic.

Watch the video presentation of the project

3rd Winner

Merimna - Society for the Care of Children and Families Facing Illness and Death (Greece)

"Connections": Supporting the school community in the shadow of the pandemic

“Connections” is a distance training program which aims to empower primary and secondary educators across Greece on how to identify the needs and effectively support students who encounter the life-threatening illness and/or death of a loved person, especially during the pandemic, and facilitate their adjustment to loss.

The programme adopts a blended learning approach, where asynchronous and real-time online learning are combined, ensuring educators’ engagement and retention, while “difficult” topics are addressed along with effective ways of supporting children and parents who experience a life-threatening illness or death in the family.

Watch the video presentation of the project


ESWA - European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (The Netherlands)

Sex work and mental health

ESWA implemented its first programme to support the mental health of sex workers and advocate for the inclusion of sex workers in mental health services. The programme was designed to offer tools on how to prevent and address mental health crises in the community while exploring the issues related to access to mental health care for sex workers.

The programme included thematic session webinars and support sessions for sex workers’ rights activists. The resources include a briefing paper as well as an organisation tool kit.


Fogjunk Össze az Egészségügyért Alapítvány (Hungary)

Mental vaccination

Established in April 2021, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the initial aim of our foundation was to create a platform to support healthcare workers by coordinating donations. When the pandemic started to recede, we focused more and more on the post-Covid recovery of healthcare workers and their families.

We organized a complex programme which involved mental health support, with lectures and workshops to help healthcare workers cope with post-Covid mental health issues, as well as recreational opportunities including weekends in hotels, cultural programmes and coffee & book events.


FIMABIS-IBIMA - Fundación Pública para la Investigación de Málaga en Biomedicina y Salud. Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Málaga (Spain)

Telehealth Home Support During COVID-19 Confinement for Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment or Mild Dementia

The initiative sought to prevent and alleviate mental-health related needs and the impact of social isolation as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic in community-dwelling older adults with cognitive impairment or dementia by providing television-based and telephone-based health care and social support bridging the gaps which rose from disrupted service provision.

Moreover, the effects of a television-based assistive integrated technology TV-ASSISTDEM for remote support were explored. Television sets were the preferred technological devices to access COVID-19 information, to watch television as a recreational activity. Telehealth support using TV-AssistDem demonstrated potential for cognitive stimulation.


Solentra ‘Trauma en Solidariteit’ vzw (Belgium)

Free helpline for refugees and asylum seekers in times of COVID-19

The corona pandemic hit vulnerable groups extra hard. This is certainly the case for (homeless) refugees and asylum seekers who were confronted with extra stress, panic attacks and psychosocial problems, on top of the already existing problems of trauma or depression.

Therefore Solentra introduced a free psychological helpline in Arabic, Dari and Farsi for refugees during the lockdowns in 2020-2021. A team of psychologists listened to the refugees’ stories, offered psycho-education, techniques and exercises to reduce stress and anxiety, and tried to strengthen the refugees’ resilience.


Soleterre Foundation (Italy)

At the forefront – In prima linea

Italy was the first European country affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; Lombardy the most affected region, and the Policlinico San Matteo at Pavia was the referral hospital for the first “red zone” of Codogno (treating "patient #1").

Since March 13th 2020, Soleterre developed a clinical psychology service for health professionals, patients and relatives impacted by the pandemic, activating a team of 15 clinical psychologists in the Covid-19 Emergency Wards. The service has been replicated in all the 20 Italian regions, with 90 psychotherapists assisting a total of 800 adult patients and 1,700 adolescents.


Stichting IkkanWelzijn (The Netherlands)

Neighbours help lonely elderly

Foundation IkkanWelzijn (which can be loosely translated as “I am allowed to feel well”) took as its mission the promotion of societal cohesion by bringing people together, which led to increased social inclusion and activity, and to people simply paying more attention to each other and feeling supported. With the ‘Neighbours help lonely elderly ‘project, we as a foundation (IkkanWelzijn) want to help reduce loneliness.

We do this by connecting the local network of citizens, volunteers and organizations, by applying the results of scientific research, experience and action, and by promoting knowledge and expertise.