The S&D Group from the European Parliament launched this week a 10 point Plan called “Europe Back to work”. It consists on a series of measures that they want to implement in order to take Europe out of the crises and is being presented in the context of this May’s European Elections. As EPHA we have taken a closer look to what it says on health and social related issues that might be of interest for the Public Health Community.
Health workforce and labour shortages
The S&D Group foresees that 2 million health care workers will be needed by 2015, which represents 15% of the total health care needs. This shortage affects more areas than health and therefore needs to be tackle by overarching actions. First they want to create a European Skills Monitoring System for it to be used by public authorities. And second by investing in high quality education and keeping this budget line away from the cuts. Education along with public services is an essential part our society and should be protected and encouraged.
Regarding health at work, the S&D Group claim that “more needs to be done to ensure high standards of health and safety at work as the enforcement of existing legislation is in many poor places”. At EPHA we recognise the huge steps that have been done at the EU in the last decades but we are concern that this situation could change due to crises.
Ethical Recruitment and Discrimination
The report stresses the right of migrants to seek jobs without facing exploitation and that a clear ethical recruitment code should be put in place. In EPHA we would like to go further and claim that despite an hte World Health Organization (WHO) Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Workers exists, it is not binding and its implementation not being monitored. Health workers who end up working in Europe coming from countries with severe health workforce shortages represent a major health burden for the development of their home country and we would like to see this being addressed and a solution put into action.
Discrimination is not something that happens only at a workplace level but that affects other areas, such as housing and health care, that prevent individuals from successfully integrating in society
The youth are the biggest victims of the crisis with unemployment mounting to 50% in some Member States. The situation for young people with health problems and disabilities is even more severe and policies specifically addressed to them are often non-existent. In EPHA we would also like to add that the mental health implications of the crisis have been widely neglected by the authorities. In a market oriented society, long term unemployment is seen as “socially unproductive” and it has several health implications for the two sectors that have been hit the most: the youth and the people at the verge of retirement.
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