Commission outlines EU health policy strategy

The EU health strategy 2008-2013 focuses on fostering good health among older people and the workforce, protecting citizens from emerging threats and supporting innovation towards more efficient and sustainable healthcare systems.

The Commission adopted, on 23 October 2007, a new strategy Together for Health: A Strategic Approach for the EU 2008-2013

The new strategy focus at EU level is backed by an impact assessment accompanying the document. According to the assessment, the EU can provide important added value in helping to overcome inequities in health, action on current and emerging health threats, supporting the sustainability of health systems and addressing global health issues.

The proposed strategy focuses on three strategic themes. These are: 

  • Fostering good health in an ageing Europe, for example, measures to promote the health of older people and the workforce, and actions on tobacco, nutrition, alcohol, mental health;
  • protecting citizens from health threats, for example, strengthening mechanisms for surveillance and response to health threats such as pandemics or bioterrorism and preparing for emerging threats linked to climate change; and; 
  • dynamic health systems and new technologies, for example, a Community framework for safe, high quality and efficient health services, co-operation on innovation on genomics, biotechnology, nanotechnology and the implementation of e-health solutions.

The Commission says the strategy is based on shared values of universality, equity and solidarity and on the recognition of the fact that ‘health is wealth’. It also emphasises the need to integrate health into all policies and strengthen the EU’s voice in global health.

"The EU is facing new challenges. Its population is ageing fast and its recent enlargements widened the health gaps between member states. Migration, the mobility of health professionals and patients, the risks posed by pandemics and bioterrorism all represent additional challenges. So do globalisation and climate change. The time has come for the EU to develop a strong and comprehensive strategy on health," said EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

The reflection process for a new EU Health Strategy was launched in July 2004 with a public consultation.

The stakeholders' contributions called for better co-ordination between public health and other policy areas, more comparable data on the impact of investments in health and further debate on healthcare in general. 

At the end of 2006, the Commission launched another consultation process to gather stakeholders' views on how the new strategy would work in practice. 

The contributions emphasised the need to enhance European co-operation on emerging threats such as bird flu, health inequalities, information exchanges and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

  • Before end 2007: The Commission will adopt a Communication on the establishment of an EU framework on healthcare services to ensure cross-border access to safe, high-quality and efficient care (see EURACTIV 01/10/2007).

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