EuroHealthNet Position on European Commission‘Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion: "Investing in health, a prerequisite to a prosperous European Union"

EuroHealthNet is calling on EU member states and authorities to seriously engage with latest EU level strategies on the adoption of the European Commission's highly anticipated 'Social Investment Package' and its accompanying document 'Investing in Health'.

EuroHealthNet has previously illustrated the strong links which exist between health, poverty and social exclusion. As the documents suggest in their situation analysis, it is now time for a clearer EU strategy supporting effective, integrated, equitable and universal health and social systems.

Equitable health outcomes are crucial to tackle poverty, increase inclusion of people across the social gradient and meet EU goals of cohesion, wellbeing, economic sustainability and social progress. In some states mentioned in the documents, cuts in social spending in the context of budget consolidation programmes are impacting strongly on the availability of social and health support services, particularly to those in need. Those cuts coincide with a greater demand for social services at a time when 24% of the EU population are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

''The Commission's new call to invest in sustainable health systems, to consider health as an asset rather than a burden, and to reduce health inequalities is therefore welcome" said Clive Needle, EuroHealthNet Director. ''But this will now need serious engagement from and with all responsible bodies and stakeholders across Europe. When the numbers of young unemployed people are soaring, that is a health emergency as much as an economic crisis. Professionals in health systems need to be involved as much as social sectors, and need to ensure quality, equity and effectiveness of all that is done. That means preventing illness and promoting wellbeing for all.''

He also pointed out that when massive societal challenges of obesity and mental ill health are being highlighted, that integration between health and social systems is essential and that the stated EU aim of reorienting systems towards promotion of wellbeing and prevention of disease makes economic and social sense.

''Addressing the socio-economic determinants of health is essential to improve the efficiency of health systems. We therefore strongly believe that re-directing investment in better health promotion and disease prevention in and outside the health sector would help meet needs. Since the Social Investment Package recognises the contribution of health promoting approaches to Europe's social and economic capital - as did the recent ECFIN report onThe Quality of Public Expenditures in the EUand other important documents before - we hope that EU Member States will therefore be actively encouraged to re-orient their health systems accordingly."

EuroHealthNet will now work with its network, stakeholders and EU institutions to take forward elements of the EU Social Investment Package in discussions in national and regional capitals, and together with the World Health Organization as it prepares for its ''Oslo II'' conference in April on sustaining health systems in times of economic problems.

The European Commission Social Investment Package is available here

The European Commission document "Investing in Health" is available here

To access the European Commission Press Release, click here

For more information, contact Ariane Moret

[1] The Quality of Public Expenditures in the EU, ECFIN, December 2012