Global challenges, territorial answers: the future of Health in Europe
The event opened with Ossi Martikainen, member of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Chair of the CoR NAT Commission, who explained the rising issues Europe is facing in terms of healthcare. He believes that a lot of EU healthcare systems are out of date and are unable to face today’s challenges, such as the ageing population and the need to promote the sharing of data efficiently across borders. Mr Martikainen’s remarks were followed by Vytenis Andriukaitis’ speech. The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety spoke about the need to develop preventative healthcare, rather than disease-centered care. He also stressed the importance of empowering European citizens to implement healthy lifestyles, such as receiving vaccinations and cancer screenings, so they may curb illnesses before they occur, and of promoting active aging. Cristian-Silviu Bușoi, Member of the European Parliament and of the ENVI Committee also underlined the need to move from disease-centered care to patient-centered care as a preventative measure. Mr Busoi also pointed out that European institutions must work together to address the current inefficiencies in the healthcare sector and to encourage coherence between countries. Birgitta Sacrédeus, member of the European Committee of the Regions and Chair of the CoR Interregional Group on Health and Well-being focused on the importance of new technologies and the need to meet with the industry, academia, the public sector, and the civil society to cooperate and work together in a common platform. She also underlined that the European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety plays a leading role in finding a forum for dialogue for all health stakeholders. The first session concluded with, Leen Meulenbergs, the WHO Representative to the EU, who stressed that health is essential to development and announced that the World Health Organisation is going to focus a lot more on partnerships, as it is only by acting together that we will achieve the health-related SDGs. The second part of the event consisted in a panel discussion including an interactive session with the audience. Panelists answered some questions and discussed with the audience how we should create effective, accessible and resilient healthcare systems, how to improve integrated care across Europe, how to make best use of the European Structural and Investment Funds in the health sector, and how to make progress in research and innovation through the Smart Specialisation Platforms. Throughout the session, the audience was also able to add their input through an interactive questionnaire. This was a way to engage the audience and have dialogue between citizens and healthcare professionals and policy makers. All panelists agreed that breaking the silos and developing common strategies in joint partnership is key to addressing the current health challenges.
Take away message
There is a clear need for closer collaboration between regions and the EU institutions and novel partnerships among health stakeholders. In order to work together and ensure effective, accessible and resilient healthcare systems across Europe, it is of paramount importance to meet with the industry, academia, the public sector, and the civil society and create a permanent forum for dialogue for all stakeholders. Finally, health must remain a key area of action at all levels, including at EU level.
“Thinking global and acting local goes hand in hand” Leen Meulenbergs, WHO Representative to the EU
Preparations for the upcoming programming period are underway. Acknowledgement of the role of health stakeholders, in particular local and regional authorities, in the process of programming as well as project design and implementation should be reinforced to ensure the best outcomes for the health sector. Jennifer McGuinn, ESIFunds for Health
“EU funds, EU financial instruments, EU policies and programmes: the opportunities are there to invest in health. Regions and local authorities must be prepared to seize them and the European Commission helps them do so.” Sylvain Giraud, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, European Commission
"Primary, community, and social care is a key combination in order to provide people with the health care they deserve" Ana Carriazo, European Reference Site Collaborative Network
"We need to shift from low-value to high-value interventions and partnerships like the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing are key" Nick Batey, EUREGHA Chair
"Research industry, public authorities, and citizens together: regional innovation ecosystems and smart specialisation strategies ensure cooperation across the whole value chain. Breaking the silos is key" Hortense Lutz-Hermellin, Head of Office of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes EU delegation, MEDTech RIS3 platform
"Engaging regional and local authorities is key and they should find a way to cooperate with the Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases and other EU decision-making bodies" Cristian-Silviu Busoi, Member of the European Parliament