Campaign seeks to boost interest in EU health initiatives

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A new campaign by the European Commission aims to reach out to citizens via a website which showcases the bloc’s initiatives to improve health care across Europe.

“The aim is to provide a coherent and tangible communication framework for the many different healthcare policies that we plan to adopt and undertake,” said Health Commissioner Androula Vassiliou at the launch of the ‘Europe for Patients’ website. The site offers updated information on EU initiatives as well as related articles and events posted by national and regional health organisations.

“I want to involve citizens in our health policymaking by bringing initiatives closer to the public,” Vassiliou said, adding that this would be an important step towards empowering citizens via the EU health strategy. 

The campaign features ten initiatives, which address patient safety, cross-border health care, rare diseases, organ donation and transplantation, cancer screening, the healthcare workforce, flu and childhood vaccination and the use of antibiotics. The overarching goal is to provide better health care for all in Europe.

Meanwhile, the European Patients’ Forum recently published a manifesto which also urged the EU to give patients more involvement in health policy. The forum had been calling for equal and timely access to health care for all Europeans. 

Despite Vassiliou’s latest initiative, the EU executive has very few competences in the healthcare field and national governments remain fully in charge of their health systems.

A recent Commission proposal for a Directive on Cross-border Health Care, which aims to ensure that citizens can access healthcare in other EU countries and be reimbursed by their national systems, received a cool reception from governments. At a time when national budgets are under increasing strain, member states are reluctant to commit to any European legislation that would potentially increase the burden on healthcare systems.

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