"If we are to achieve better spending, not only constrain it, solidarity and equity should underpin structural reforms as a way to lay the foundations for a sustainable society," said Monika Kosińska, EPHA’s Secretary General.

In these times of crisis, Europe needs to count on a healthy and productive workforce to enable it to return to growth and reach Europe 2020 targets.

"To say that current policy responses to the economic crisis are letting down Europe’s most vulnerable would be an understatement," said Ms Kosińska. "Social protection enables society to take off in times of uncertainty. The Commission’s proposal ticks the right boxes especially where it advises boosting health care investment (3) and recommends to further alleviate child poverty (4). The link between poverty and worsening health outcomes (5) must be taken more seriously."

“EU leaders need to be bold when championing children’s physical, emotional and social development – the saying that today’s children are tomorrow’s future never wears off,” pointed out Ms Kosińska.

Significant reductions in healthcare budgets risk creating new inefficiencies, undermining access and quality of care, and damaging health outcomes. The Commission’s proposals on promoting good health (6), employment in the health sector (7), and reducing health inequalities (8) demonstrate the holistic approach needed to put Europe back on track to balanced economic development. Health promotion and disease prevention are value for money as they reduce long-term treatment costs.

"Well thought-through investments in health will make public care sustainable. Member states need to be bold in moving away from business-as-usual if they want to achieve a positive impact on the ground," concluded Ms Kosinska.

.End.

- Notes to Editors

(1) Commission proposes a Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion

(2) EPHA is a change agent – Europe’s leading NGO advocating for better health. We are a dynamic member-led organisation, made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals, and disease groups working together to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe.

(3) European Commission Staff working paper on Investing in Health accompanying the Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion.

(4) EPHA Recommendations on Child Poverty

(5) ATD 4th World, Caritas, Coface, EAPN, European Social Network, Eurochild, Eurodiaconia and PICUM developed recommendations - Child Poverty and Well-being and a implementation roadmap.

(6) Evidence-based workplace interventions to promote mental health could reduce absenteeism and early retirement leading to 135 Euros in savings.

(7) From 2008-2011 2.5 million jobs were lost within the EU. During the same period, the health sector generated 2.8 million jobs. The European Centre for Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFP) estimates that within the health there will be up to eight million job vacancies by 2020.

(8) Health inequalities represent a huge potential economic loss, estimated between1.5%-9.5% of GDP.

- Contact information

Javier Delgado Rivera, EPHA Communications Coordinator, Tel.: +32 2 233 38 76, j.delgado-rivera@epha.org

- Facts and figures

  • Greece has seen a 17 percent of increase in suicides since 2008
  • In Portugal the Ministry of Health’s budget was cut by 12.3 percent
  • In England, alcohol sin tax has benefits close to €600 million in reduced health and welfare costs and reduced labor and productivity losses, at an implementation cost of less than €0.10 per capita.
  • The economic size of the health care sector accounts for about 10 percent of GDP in the EU.
  • France, Public health decreased from almost €4 billion to €1.2 billion- with a 40 percent cut in the pharmaceutical sub-budget16 as the largest slash.
  • The Czech budgetof the Ministry of Health suffered a cut of €81 million in 2010 - a decrease of 30 percent compared to 2008.

- Further reading

  • EPHA Press Release: MEPs lead urgent plea from health community to prevent health crisis in Europe
Last modified on March 7 2013.