EuroHealthNet has continued its series of meetings with senior policy makers in Brussels, by holding an important dialogue with EU Health & Food Safety Commissioner Dr Vytenis Andrukaitis. President Nicoline Tamsma, together with Directors Caroline Costongs and Clive Needle, comprised the EuroHealthNet delegation, who set out the mission, aims and objectives of the partnership, but expressed concern at the situation for sustainable health improvement and social equity across the EU in the wake of the well-documented financial crisis and its consequences.
Commissioner Andrukaitis engaged positively in a lengthy discussion about what can be done in concrete terms by the European Commission and other Institutions; the factors which need most urgent attention; and the instruments which could be available. EuroHealthNet welcomed this extensive dialogue and made several suggestions for follow up work, stressing not only its expertise in bringing forward evidence for application in policy and practice, but also its key role in implementation as a partnership of responsible and accountable national and regional bodies.
Nicoline Tamsma felt that the exchanges had been welcome:
"It was valuable to have such a clear and constructive exchange of views and to see the passion and commitment of the Commissioner to make measurable impact in his term of office period to 2019. There is no point in pretending all is well for the equitable health of all EU citizens, but we agreed on many things and can take practical steps together to help health improvement for all EU policies. For example, we need to evaluate how previous economic recommendations for health system reforms have impacted on health, and look at the evidence of country and disaggregated health profiles to tackle health determinants better and more rapidly. We also highlighted the need to support health promoting efforts at national, regional and local level, and discussed how existing EU instruments can be of help here.’
Caroline Costongs said
'"I am pleased that the need to tackle the social determinants of health across EU and state policies is understood by the Commissioner, and he quoted key evidence we also want to see applied. The capacities to act on the ground must be considered in health system performance assessments, as well as a shift to more health promotion and disease prevention. The Commissioner’s aim of tangible, rapid progress on key risk factors such as sugar, salt, fats, smoking, alcohol, physical activity and stress management is something we and all our partners work on every day. They need strong support, leadership and action by the EC – and real partnership working. We are ready to help that.’’
The trio will now report to the next meeting of the whole EuroHealthNet Executive Board in November. EuroHealthNet will take up suggested actions with senior European Commission policy makers and officials across all policy areas as part of its 2016-17 work programme, including work within the EU Health Programme, Horizon 2020 Research Programme, and the Employment and Social innovation Programme (EaSI).
Picture: EU Health Commissioner V. Andrukaitis with C. Costongs, EuroHealthNet Managing Director, Nicoline Tamsma, EuroHealthNet President and Clive Needle, EuroHealthNet Policy & Advocacy Director.