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Brussels, 23 October 2007

Together for Health – A Strategic Approach for the EU, 2008-2013

The European Commission adopted today a Health Strategy setting out the direction for Community Health action in the years to come . The White Paper, “Together for Health – A Strategic Approach for the EU, 2008-2013” establishes a broad cross-policy framework to respond to a wide range of health challenges in a comprehensive and coherent way. It provides for concrete new actions aiming, among other things, to strengthen European defences against health threats, to increase prevention and early diagnosis of cancer and to equip citizens with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their health. Overall, the strategy aims to help foster good health in an ageing Europe, to protect the European Union’s citizens against health threats and to support dynamic health systems.

EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "The European Union 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. The new strategy will enable us to help Member States meet a wide range of common challenges based on shared principles and values, while keeping in mind our global commitments. Ultimately, the prosperity of the European Union largely depends on the health status of its citizens.”

Objectives and principles

Europe urgently needs to help its citizens live and age in good health and remain active as they grow older. At the same time, it is vital that the EU continues to strengthen its defences against health threats. In addition, European citizens need efficient health systems that meet their needs. New technologies can save lives and greatly improve healthcare. That is why the EU needs to help Member States develop co-operation on health services and use technology for health purposes.

In short, the Health Strategy aims to:

  • Foster Good Health in an Ageing Europe by promoting good health throughout the lifespan;
  • Protect Citizens from Health Threats including communicable diseases, bioterrorism, and patient safety; and
  • Support Dynamic Health Systems and New Technologies.

The White Paper also sets out a number of cross-cutting principles such as solidarity, citizen participation in policy-making and the need to reduce inequities in health, to promote investment in health, to mainstream health in all policies, and to strengthen the EU's voice in Global Health.

Priority actions and citizens' benefits

To live up to its principles and achieve its objectives, the Strategy sets out a framework under which actions can be taken. The White Paper foresees 18 concrete priority actions for the next two years. These include, for instance, proposals aimed at reducing inequities in health and at increasing the EU’s role in global health.

Also foreseen are: a statement on fundamental health values, initiatives to support Member States in managing innovation in health systems and work on rare diseases.

New actions aiming to improve the health of older people, ensure that organ transplants are safe and improve health literacy in the EU are expected to benefit citizens directly.

More actions will be proposed during the strategy's lifespan.

Implementation through co-operation

To implement the Strategy in close co-operation with the Member States and other key players, the White Paper foresees the creation of a structured co-operation mechanism. It will identify priorities, define indicators, facilitate the exchange of good practice, produce guidelines and recommendations and measure progress..
The results of the consultation processes of 2004 and 2007 and more information on the Health Strategy can be found at:

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