On November 19-20 in Vilnius, the Lithuanian Health Forum 2013, entitled Sustainable Health Systems for Inclusive Growth in Europe, identified existing evidence on fostering the development of sustainable health systems throughout the entire Europe. The Forum’s main outcome was the Vilnius Declaration: a call for action to protect Europe’s healthcare systems. Austerity cuts have put Europe’s healthcare systems under severe pressure, increasing health inequalities and threatening sustainability in the future. Now, European governments and the EU need to take immediate action to prevent further damage. The Vilnius Declaration sets out three action points to be presented to the Council of Health Ministers to inform their debate when they meet in December.

In early November, we reacted to the European Commission’s 4th Annual Growth Survey a report that sets out the Commission’s priorities for the coming 12 months in terms of economic, budgetary policies and reforms to boost growth and employment. EPHA welcomed the recognition of a number of issues, such as the need to tackle the social consequences of the crisis; ensuring the financial sustainability of social protection and healthcare systems; and the role of social protection to reduce inequalities and poverty. However, and among other demands, EPHA urged for better tools to measure the impact of the crisis on health and social protection systems, more clarity on implementation and better dialogue with civil society at national and EU level.

In a joint press conference held with the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and Friends of the Earth, we voiced our fears that the mutual recognition of regulations envisaged in the ongoing negotiations of the EU-U.S. trade pact -what will be the world’s biggest free trade deal- could dangerously lower consumer regulation and standards. It could in fact outweigh the benefits the deal might bring in terms of lower prices and more consumer choice.

Eurocare and EPHA responded to a number of claims made by the alcohol industry to undermine an ambitious future EU Action Plan on alcohol-related harm and the NGO commitments to achieve this.In a joint statement ahead of the European Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF), we reiterated our concerns about the reliance by the European Commission on self-regulation and the role of economic operators.

November ended with the European COPD Coalition (ECC), an EPHA member organisation, holding a joint conference entitled “What role for diseases and patients in shaping Horizon 2020? A COPD case study of patient involvement.” The event discussed the newly-adopted EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation – Horizon 2020, and standards of care for COPD. As Mike Galsworthy, from the University College London’s and one of this event’s speakers said,given the prevalence and societal and economic burden of COPD, there should absolutely be some kind of ring-fencing of funds for specific diseases such as this that has been underfunded to date.

Earlier this month, and ahead of the Trialogue meeting between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, EPHA published our briefing on the Regulation of Nicotine Containing Products (NCPs), including electronic cigarettes – which are part of the ongoing discussion on the revision of Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). In this paper, we put forward a set of principles for future EU wide NCP legislation and proposed a series of policy options for regulating NCP, while highlighting the public health requirements of these products. As stressed in our press statement, “without a robust regulatory framework in place in the EU, e-cigarettes are now hanging in a legal limbo. It is essential that this emerging range of products is urgently regulated to safeguard people’s health.”

Monika Kosińska, EPHA Secretary General

Read all the online articles from our November & December 2013 Newsletter

- Other highlights from previous weeks

- EPHA members can find the following new information in the members-only section

Last modified on December 11 2013.