17 October 2013, Brussels - In the context of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) high-level meeting ‘Health systems for health and wealth in the context of Health 2020: Follow-up to the 2008 Tallinn Charter’ on 17-18 October 2013, EPHA has released a statement in collaboration with Medicus Mundi International and Health Workers 4all urging for continuous investment in quality health services and health workforce to achieve health strengthening.
The original Tallinn Charter is now five years old, and it is high time to revisit its commitments given that health systems are in increasingly bad shape in many European Member States. The major health challenges described in the Tallinn Charter are still in place, and the ongoing crisis in Europe has only amplified them: health inequalities are growing as a result of policy changes pertaining to accessing health services and vital medicines, but also owing to health professional shortages and short-term thinking motivated by economic pressures. While little has changed for the well-to-do, the vulnerable are most affected by austerity measures and easily excluded from the objective of universal health coverage.
Perhaps now more than ever, the Charter’s recognition that ’high-performing health systems contribute to economic development and wealth’ needs to be underlined. The Charter also states that ’it is unacceptable that people become poor as a result of ill health’ and it equates investing in health with investing in human development, social well-being and wealth. Achieving long-term health system sustainability requires a long-term vision coupled with continued investments in quality health services, health promotion and prevention, and nurturing a well trained, contented health workforce.
Hence EPHA and the co-signatories call on the WHO Europe Region and its Member States to collaborate with their international partners and with the European Commission on the actions for health strengthening outlined in the Charter, and to identify effective policy directions for tackling critical issues in the years to come. We encourage these stakeholders to scale up their efforts in implementing the Tallinn Charter and analyse its progress, and to ensure that stakeholder engagement is central to their engagement with economic governance processes.
We also hope that these discussions will influence the outcomes of the EU reflection process on modern, responsive and sustainable health systems in order to see concrete steps that tackle health inequalities across Europe.
Monika Kosińska Secretary General, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
Thomas Schwarz Executive Secretary, Medicus Mundi International Network
Linda Mans Global Health Advocate, Wemos Foundation Coordinator, ‘Health workers for all and all for health workers’ project
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