EU regions call for better integration of healthcare systems

EU healthcare systems need to adapt to people living longer lives. [Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock]

The Committee of the Regions on Wednesday (22 March) made the case for better integration between the EU’s healthcare systems, to close “inequalities” between member states and ensure that “everyone has access to healthcare”. EURACTIV Spain reports.

In an opinion adopted at the institution’s plenary session this week, the EU’s regional representatives insisted that policies aimed at reducing healthcare inequality “cannot be seen as a budgetary burden” but should instead be regarded as an investment in wellbeing.

Swedish rapporteur Birgitta Sacrédeus argued that Europe’s health systems still need to adapt to a new “landscape of illnesses” in which chronic diseases account for an ever larger proportion of costs.

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“Greater emphasis should be placed on preventive action and health promotion, and the primary care systems need to be strengthened,” Sacrédeus said.

She also argued that EU healthcare systems should give mental health problems the same level of priority as physical health.

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There is a great need to raise awareness and enhance education on diabetes and a healthier lifestyle “at every level”, Stella de Sabata, head of the International Diabetes Federation, told EURACTIV.com.

One reform proposed by the regional politicians was to include training for healthcare professionals in the Erasmus+ programme.

This initiative, they said, would be “a step in the right direction” to encourage workers in the sector to share knowledge and open up to new experiences and procedures.

The opinion, which was adopted with just one vote against, urges the EU to “improve the integration, cooperation and performance of health systems” to adapt them to an environment in which Europeans now live “longer and healthier lives” than in the past.

“While a healthy population contributes to the prosperity, the well-being and the economic development of the society, large health disparities continue to exist between and within member states and regions,” the Committee of the Regions said.

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