The SDGs for a Healthy Social Europe - time for partnership and innovation
The European Union has made significant progress in almost all health-related spheres of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Today, EU citizens enjoy some of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, the most accessible and advanced care services and opportunities to seek treatment within and beyond their national health systems.
Good health is increasingly recognised as not only being of value to the individual as a major determinant of quality of life, well-being and social participation, but also as a contributing factor to general social and economic growth. By providing people with opportunities for greater well-being and helping them realise those opportunities, policy-makers are not only promoting well-being as an intrinsic good, they are also investing in people's potential as a key driver for long-term economic growth, societal resilience and stability.
The seminar, bringing together speakers from the United Nations' World Health Organization, three European Union institutions: the Parliament, the Commission and the Committee of the Regions together with the OECD, the Euregha and the EuroHealthNet explored the intersection between individual and social wellbeing and highlighted the benefit of working across governance levels and breaking the silos, including budgetary ones. The panellists discussed how to establish and sustain a "virtuous circle" in which both elements – sustainable economic growth and well-being – work together to the benefit of people and society. Focusing on the effectiveness of health care systems, quality and accessibility of basic health care, preventive measures and high levels of health protection, they made a case for investment in health and well-being at all levels of governance to make a real difference to individuals, communities and nations.
Take away message
Health is wealth, not a budgetary burden. It fuels economic growth, productivity and individual earnings and is a key factor for people’s well-being. It allows citizens to invest in education and skills, access quality jobs and enjoy better quality of life. No wonder Europeans systematically call for more EU involvement in health.
It is time to put health at the centre of all policy interventions and nurture the partnerships, innovation and cooperation at local, regional, national and European level.
John F. RYAN
"It is important to present SDGs in a human-centred way that is designed to improve the lives of citizens with all politicians working towards the same goal."
"Money talks. Whilst the public sector itself may be short of cash and under huge pressure, there are lots of other sources. This is where some of the innovation and novelty are starting to come from in terms of thinking beyond and outside our normal approaches."
Cesar VELASCO MUÑOZ
"When we say healthcare, it means that traditionally we cure and not prevent. You can observe this in the current strategy, with the funds allocated, it is mostly reactive medicine. We need to shift to a health system that is predictive, innovative, resilient and preventive."
"Public health sectors should work together to promote health and attract investors in the future to work towards collective well-being, innovation, and partnership."
"Health is too complex and important a policy to thrive without the involvement of all parties and stakeholders."
"The science is unambiguous: 1 euro invested in health generates 14 euro in return. It is time to really put health at the heart of all policies and see health spending as smart investment in our individual and collective wellbeing."
Dr Cristian BUȘOI
"SDGs help address the issues that affect well-being within and beyond the health sector. It is time to look into their implementation to address health inequalities between and within Member States and drive a policy change forward, prioritising sustainability, patient-centeredness and quality of care for all citizens."
"We should prioritise engagement with stakeholders at the local level so that all of society participates and benefits. This is not only key to achieving equity in health, but also essential to achieving the SDGs."
Ana LLENA NOZAL
"Discrepancies in access to healthcare still exist in the EU. It might be little for primary care, but when looking at access to specialised services, we observed that there is a 12% difference between patients with low- and high-income status."