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Business as usual

On April 21, the European Commission hosted a stakeholder conference on chronic and non-communicable disease policy. The Commission also used the occasion to formally launch the newly formulated EU Health Policy Platform, which is intended to operate as a tool for stakeholders to engage and organise around the issues on which they have expertise.

[photo: European Commission]

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Andriukaitis, the DG’s Director, Xavier Prats-Monné, the Deputy Director, Martin Seychell, and no less than 4 heads of Unit were present and set out the Directorate General’s priorities in the field of chronic diseases, in the EU. It comes as no surprise that the latter are on:

  • Main risk factors: alcohol, tobacco, diet and nutrition and lack of physical activity – no work on on air quality
  • Mental health
  • Helping Member States develop national plans, and secure sufficient budgets for them, in line with the new WHO action plan on NCDs;
  • Reviewing existing tools, research, best practices and contributions, for which he felt the European Health Policy Platform, launched later that morning, would be very useful;
  • Improving cooperation between like-minded Member States through joint actions, and;
  • Pushing for the development of mobile health and e-health tools.

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The Commission presented and discussed its ideas with representatives of Member States, international organisations and stakeholders, and invited them to work jointly on the implementation of activities with a potential to reduce the burden of chronic diseases, improving health outcomes and reinforce the stability of health systems.

It was interesting to hear the points of view of Member States, which NGOs, such as ECC have seldom the occasion to hear, all together, and some (such as Austria) are asking the European Commission to be more ambitious than others (Ireland) or understand that the focus must be shifted to instruments outside of the pure Health field, such as fiscal measures, or the European Semester.

But it was disappointing that no new initiatives were presented or announcement were made, apart from a review of what already exists, in addition to an online digital Forum, which will serve as a place to debate for stakeholders (on any health subject, not only chronic diseases). There will not be a European strategy on chronic diseases, nor one on alcohol (so far) despite having so many stakeholders calling for them. Also, DG SANTE proved that it did not have the capacity (mainly, human) to live up to its motto: “health in all policies” as it showed that it was not involved in Environment, Trade or Fiscal dossiers debated at EU level and with an impact on health.

More information: the conference webpage.

The conference in tweets: storify

April 29th, 2016 | Published in chonic diseases, EU Healthcare,