29 September 2021
11.30 to 13.00 CEST


 Ms Jacqueline Bowman Busato

Ms Jacqueline Bowman-Busato is a health policy innovator working to transform health systems through multi-stakeholder policy engagement.
Currently she is focusing her energies on enabling the uptake of the WHO definition of the disease of obesity to be implemented as the chronic disease at all levels from WHO Europe to local in Belgium. She brings over 26 years of policy and stakeholder engagement expertise to bare on her work as Policy Lead at the European Association for the Study of Obesity, Co-Founder of the Belgian Foundation for the Rights of People Living with Obesity, Co-Founder and policy Lead of Self-Care in Europe Initiative and Founder of the cause-based SME Third-i.
A pioneer of multi-stakeholder coalition building for societal impact, Jacqueline has previously worked for a MEP, ran the expert secretariat of a European Parliamentarian Interest Group, headed up the Brussels office of a global NGO, transformed a patient-led platform into an equally weighted multi-stakeholder think tank for patients, science and industry.
She strongly believes in empowering all actors to be effective and engaged in optimising health ecosystems for health outcomes relevant to all actors across sectors through evidence-based policies.
She lives with two major complex chronic diseases of autoimmune hashimotos and obesity: both of which affect physical and mental health and wellbeing. Jacqueline holds degrees in English Law, French Law, Strategic Communications and an MBA. She’s a Guyanese born dual British-Belgian national, speaks fluent French and has a very good passive understanding of Dutch.


Mariano Votta is a public affairs professional and journalist, is the Director of Active Citizenship Network (ACN), the international branch of the Italian NGO Cittadinanzattiva, where he is responsible for European Affairs. Passionate about healthcare and consumer issues, he has more than 20 years of experience in the field of advocacy, stakeholder engagement, EU projects, communication & civic information. Since 2013, he has been actively involved as ACN stepped up its advocacy activities at the European Institutions, which in 2015 led to the official launch of the MEP Interest Group “European Patients’ Rights & Cross-Border Healthcare”, promoted with the endorsement of almost 100 organizations across Europe.


MEP ​Kateřina ​Konečná (Czechia) of The Left Group is member of the ​MEPs Interest Group "European Patients' Rights & Cross-Border Healthcare".


Donata Meroni is Head of the Unit ‘Health promotion, disease prevention and funding instruments’, of DG SANTE Public Health Directorate, European Commission. She was previously Head of the Unit ‘Health and food safety’ in the EC Executive Agency for Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food (CHAFEA) in Luxembourg. She has been working with the Commission since 2002, when she joined DG SANCO to work at the Food and Veterinary Office in Ireland. In 2006, she moved to Public Health Directorate in Luxembourg, working as deputy head of the 'Health Programme' Unit dealing with the second and third Health Programmes and health communication issues. She managed the 'Ex-smokers are unstoppable' anti-tobacco campaign, the five editions of the EU Health Prize for journalists, the Public Health website, the Health Portal and the Health EU newsletter. From 2013 to 2017 she has worked as deputy head of 'Country Knowledge and Scientific Committees' Unit managing the Secretariat of the Scientific Committees on Health, Environmental and emerging risks (SCHEER) and on Consumers Safety (SCCS), and dealing with Electromagnetic fields dossier. Donata is a chartered agronomist with a Master's degree in Agricultural Sciences from Milan University and she worked in Italy for more than 13 years in both the private and public sectors.


Prof. dr. Christiaan JM Vrints is part of the University of Antwerp & a Fellow Member of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Prof. Vrints is Emeritus full professor in medicine and cardiology, Emeritus director Dept. of Cardiology, and

Senior consultant Dept. of Cardiology at the Antwerp University Hospital. Since 1981 he is Member of the Belgian Society of Cardiology and, since 2005, he is Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. Prof. dr. Vrints has been past president of the ESC Acute Cardiovascular Association (2012-2014) and Editor in chief European Heart Journal Acute Cardiovascular Care (2012-2020). Currently, since 2006, he is Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).


Daniela Quaggia is a Senior project manager, graduated in Communication Science and with a 2nd level master’s degree in Institutional Communication. At the national level, in Italy, she has been working with Cittadinanzattiva for 4 years in the Institutional Relation office; since January 2010 she is a member of the Active Citizenship Network staff and, as Project Manager in the health area (vaccination, patients’ rights, chronic pain, cardiovascular diseases, etc.), she is also responsible for the networking activities and internal communication among the almost 100 EU partners of ACN, working for an exchange of information, experience and good practices, involvement in the project and political activities.


Penilla Gunther is a former member of Parliament and Founder of FOKUS Patient, Sweden. She is a member of the Steering Committee for Heart Failure Policy Network and the Heart Failure Patient Council, Global Heart Hub.


Penka Georgieva is Chairman of public benefits NGOs: Association for reproductive health, pregnancy and childcare “Smile” Association of Patients with cardiovascular diseases, Patient organizations “Together with you”, Institute of innovation, Alliance of transplanted and operated ATO “Future for All”. For the last ten years, she has committed to the protection of patients’ rights and of ethnic minorities.


Dr Marissa Mes is the Programme Lead of the Heart Failure Policy Network, a multidisciplinary independent network set up in 2015 with the aim of raising awareness of unmet needs and advancing meaningful policy change for heart failure in Europe. She is also a Senior Researcher at the Health Policy Partnership, a specialist health policy research organisation based in London, UK.


Arlene Wilkie is Director General of the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) and leads and oversees the delivery of all SAFE activities and projects. Arlene has considerable experience of alliance building, particularly in relation to policy development and implementation, and has held leadership positions in a number of health-focused organizations over the past 20 years. In her role at SAFE, Arlene also co-chairs the implementation committee of the Stroke Action Plan for Europe and is a board member of the World Stroke Organization.


Paolo Sbraccia, M.D, Ph.D. is Professor of Internal Medicine in the Department of Systems Medicine of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Chief of the Internal Medicine Unit and Obesity Center (EASO accredited Collaborating Centre for Obesity Management) at the University Hospital Policlinico Tor Vergata, Director of the Specialization School in Internal Medicine, and Chairman of the Undergraduate Course in Dietetics.

Prof. Sbraccia is also currently serving as Treasurer and member of the Board of Trustees of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), and Vice President of the Italian Barometer Diabetes Observatory. In addition, he is Past President of the Italian Society of Obesity and of the Italian Federation of Endocrinology, Diabetology, Andrology, Metabolism and Obesity. He was also member of the “Scientific Advisory Group for Diabetes and Endocrinology” of the European Medicine Agency (EMA, 2008-2015). In 2011, on behalf of SIO, he coordinated the Steering Committee for the Italian Guidelines for the Management of Obesity, and in 2016 he was Editor of the book “Clinical Management of Overweight and Obesity, Recommendations of the Italian Society of Obesity (SIO)”.

Prof. Sbraccia is also a member of the editorial boards and reviewer panels of various scientific journals; in particular, he is Section Editor for Diabetes and Endocrinology of “Eating and weight disorders” and associate Editor “Internal and Emergency Medicine”.


Paul R. Field is the Global Head of Patient Relations & Strategic Communications - Cardiovascular, Pharmaceuticals Division, Bayer AG based in Berlin, Germany. He is responsible for the global development of patient engagement and stakeholder advocacy, and related policy initiatives within the cardiovascular therapy area, which includes chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, chronic heart failure and thrombosis.


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