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Brussels, 21 May 2003

33 Ministers to focus on eHealth in Brussels on May 22-23

33 Ministers from the EU, EFTA and Accession countries will attend the first European eHealth Ministerial Conference and Exhibition which will take place in Brussels on May 22-23 in collaboration with the Greek Presidency. Ministers for Health and Ministers for Telecommunications will discuss how technology can assist in delivering better and more cost-effective healthcare to European citizens. Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Information Society and Enterprise will open the conference with an introduction on the e-Europe Policy Perspective, and then, together with David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, will officially open the Exhibition. This exhibition will present 42 eHealth-care applications selected from among 189 proposals. The best of the exhibitors will receive the first eEurope Awards and the conference will culminate with a Ministerial Declaration on how to make further progress on this issue.

eHealth is a growing industry in the EU. Across Europe the internet is being used not only by citizens (23% use the internet to seek health related information) but on average 78% of European General Medical Practitioners are connected to the internet and are using it in their daily practice (Eurobarometer, April 2003).

Erkki Liikanen said, "It is imperative that we exploit the increased efficiency resulting from synergies between ICT investments and the management of individual and public resources. This contributes to the rate of growth in productivity; it means higher real income; more competitive companies and more resources for financing of public services. eHealth is an area which is particularly promising for improving efficiency and equal treatment."

David Byrne commented: "We have a lot to say about the subject of 'Creating the eHealth Landscape' because it affects so many of the activities we have been engaged in and that we are proposing to develop under our new public health programme. For example, via the Public Health Action Programme and the e-Health initiative, we are working to ensure that Europeans have access to high quality, useful and trustworthy on-line health information. Recent surveys have shown that there is a clear demand for on-line health information among Europe's citizens, but still many Europeans remain unaware of the amount and reliability of health information that can be found on the web. I welcome the opportunity to explain all our plans and aspirations in this crucial area, as well as to hear first hand the activities which Member States and Accession Countries are engaged in."

This first 2003 eHealth Conference and Exhibition, in support of the eEurope Action Plan for Health, will offer a unique opportunity to get a clear view on where Europe stands in terms of eHealth tools and services, as well as on eHealth policy in the Member States and regions.

Ministers from the European Union and future Member States, together with senior policy makers both from the telecom and health sectors, will discuss the best practices and the ways to promote the adoption of eHealth applications across Europe. A structured debate, introduced by Commissioner Byrne with several ministers will take place on May 22. This ministerial debate will culminate in the presentation of the first eEurope Awards which will be given by Commissioners Erkki Liikanen and David Byrne, the Greek Ministers for Health and Telecommunications and the Chairman of Awards Committee. The first day will close with the announcement by the Greek Presidency of the Ministerial Declaration on eHealth.

Conference sessions on issues such as "architecture for National eHealth Systems and Networks", "Meeting the challenge of an eHealth industry", "facilitating doctor-patient dialogue" will be presented during the two-days conference. Four thematic Parallel sessions on "Exciting new eHealth applications" will take on place May 23.

More information:

The conference and Exhibition programme on the eHealth website:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eeurope/ehealth/conference/2003/index_en.htm

To register on-line:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/press_services/onlinereg/index_en.htm

The full list of selected exhibits:

http://www.e-europeawards.org/


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