Europe is searching for post-pandemic social and economic recovery which is long-term and sustainable; over the next three weeks, leaders will meet to discuss how to implement such a recovery. It is widely acknowledged that the effects of the pandemic have not been experienced equally, as it exposed and exacerbated health inequalities in our society. These inequalities result from pre-existing weaknesses in health, employment, education, and other systems. It is crucial that recovery plans address these weaknesses and support actions that improve health, equity and wellbeing.
EuroHealthNet urges European leaders to use health equity as a compass, to set the direction for the measures needed, and the paths to take, to recover from the pandemic and build fairer and more resilient societies said Mojca Gabrijelcic, President of EuroHealthNet.
Today, European leaders will gather to discuss the implementation of social rights at the EU Porto Social Summit. Then they will proceed to establish priorities based on citizens’ needs at the Conference on the Future of Europe and discuss future preparedness and health crises responses agreements at the Global Health Summit later in May. During these discussions, EuroHealthNet – representing public health authorities – urges decision-makers to make advancing health equity and reducing inequalities their central concern.
There is today more awareness of the importance of health to our societies, as well as knowledge that not everyone has access to the same conditions for good health. This gives impetus for more action; action which goes beyond a strictly bio-medical approach to health, towards one which also encompasses psychosocial aspects of health. This means investments to strengthen integrated primary and community care as well as mental health services, and elevate digital and health literacy in ways that reach people directly where they live. It means closely monitoring the distributional impacts of social and infrastructure investments, to ensure they reduce rather than exacerbate existing inequalities and address poverty and social exclusion. It also means ensuring that key EU-level policy initiatives like the European Health Union, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Green Deal are implemented in ways that are fair, and in proportion to need.
This focus on health equity can guide the way to more cohesive and inclusive, and thereby sustainable and resilient societies, more able to withstand future crises and recover quicker and better for all.
Practical and sustainable actions are possible. We know what works as demonstrated by our partnership and its members. Useful resources from EuroHealthNet include:
- The International online portal on tackling health inequalities, including resources, ideas, and examples of practices on where and how to act.
- Information about what can be done via governance resources of the European Semester and the new Recovery and Resilience Facility and national plans.
- Guidance on the links between health and the European Pillar of Social Rights, gender inequalities, poverty in early years, the digital health literacy divide, and the skills agenda for health, sustainability and prosperity.
- Reflections on building a European Health Union.
The priorities and approaches that we take today for Europe’s post-pandemic recovery, will determine our resilience to future crises. We call on European leaders, and on EU institutions to help in this endeavour, to invest effectively in promoting health, wellbeing and health equity as an approach to and outcome of recovery.
EuroHealthNet partnership and its members stand ready to help take the commitments and agreed actions forward, within the capacities and competences that we hold.