The nature of health threats facing European citizens has changed dramatically in recent years. Whilst still including the traditional ‘health threats’ associated with the outbreak of contagious diseases, current policy now addresses the broader realm of ‘health security’, incorporating the health elements of threats not emanating from health issues – for example, natural disaster or terrorist attack.
The WHO estimates that at any moment, 30 to 40 of its members are affected by a crisis – during the last 20 years, this has resulted in three million deaths and has adversely affected over 800 million citizens. Each member state has its own set of national emergency preparedness and response plans, as well as provisions for local action in the event of an emergency. These outline the organisation of emergency services, cooperation between sectors and agencies, procedures with regards to information management and communication and, in most cases, the designation of emergency powers. The EU has an important role to play in the identification and dissemination of best practice, as well as the development of national plans that factor in “... the EU dimension, with its body of laws in various sectors which have a bearing on public health emergency plans,” stated the European Commission in a communication.
The EPHA briefing on health security introduces the implications for health of these new threats and identifies the existing mechanisms and processes in place at the European level. Particular reference is made to the Commission’s Proposal for a Decision regarding Serious Cross Border Threats to Health.
Related EPHA articles:
*Updated* EPHA briefing on health threats from communicable diseases
Health threats: EU proposal for better protection and more coordination
EPHA position on health security in the EU