According to the Commission, the EU needs more co-ordination on health issues to bridge the broad health inequalities gaps across Europe and to fight against health risks such as pandemics.
“The extent of inequalities in health status and incidence of diseases in Europe is a major challenge,” said the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou. These inequalities are due to “different levels of medical capacity across the EU, division between rich and poor and difference in level of education. Inequalities can even be found between communities and genders,” said Kyprianou. “Countries have much to gain from working together to bridge these inequalities,” he added.
According to Kyprianou, individual countries’ general approach to health, promotion of healthy lifestyle and prevention also matter – as do the wider health determinants such as environmental pollution and socio-economic conditions.
In the battle against major health risks such as the threat of pandemics, “health policies which are now the responsibility of individual states are to be co-ordinated more effectively than before”, said Bernard Merkel from the Commission’s Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General. “The European single health market is anyhow already a reality as patients and medical experts can move freely,” he added.