Health First Europe (HFE), an alliance of healthcare industries andworkers, academics and patient organisations, has screened the opinions of 77 Brussels-based decision-makers on the "most pressing health-related issues faced by European society today".
The respondents include MEPs, Commission officials, EU member states' health attachés and health-industry representatives. The survey was supported by the former health commissioner and HFE patron David Byrne.
The authors of the HFE Health Survey 2007 - '77 EU Opinion Leaders' Views on the Future of Health' qualify as the main result and "surprising outcome" the fact that some 41% of the respondents are in favour of a unique European healthcare system common to all member states. "This demonstrates a substantial shift in attitude over recent years towards considering health from a European perspective and tackling current challenges on a cross-border basis," states the report.
As to the EU powers in the field of health, the survey shows strong support for immediate extension of EU competence in co-ordination of health research, standards and technical resources such as patient records, and 33% would favour a treaty-based change to allow the EU to legislate in all areas of health.
Some 87% of Brussels' opinion leaders believe that individuals must increasingly be proactive in looking after their own health and treatment through a healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise and medication. In addition, 81% believe that health education should be part of the school curriculum so that individuals can be empowered to manage their own health from an early age.
The Commission is currently preparing a White Paper on a broad EU health strategy, expected to be adopted in June 2007. It is set to present a coherent approach and clear objectives at EU level to improve and promote health of EU citizens, as health is acknowledged as an important factor supporting a productive and competitive economy.