Commission takes pulse of Community programmes
By Sophie Petitjean | Thursday 03 May 2012
The EU funded 673 health projects between 2003 and 2012, the European Commission highlighted at a high-level conference, held on 3 May, to celebrate the tenth year of EU health programmes. The conference was also the occasion for the launch of the European journalism prize for health, and the presentation HEIDI, a comprehensive search tool for European health information and data.
“In an economic climate where every cent of public spending is under scrutiny, and rightly so, we would like to demonstrate with real-life examples that money spent on health is money well spent,” said the Commissioner John Dalli, in charge of health and consumers, before the opening of the conference, which brought together some 500 political decision makers, health sector representatives and journalists.
‘HEALTH FOR GROWTH’
Besides sharing best practice, the main goal of the conference was to gauge stakeholders’ reactions to the proposed regulation establishing the next programme, ‘Health for growth’. The draft text, which was presented by the Commission in November 2011, suggests allocating €446 million from the Community budget to actions linked to health in the period 2014-2020. More specifically, it identifies four key priorities: establishing innovative and viable health systems (48% of the budget), improving access to, and the reliability of, high quality health care for citizens (22%), promoting health and preventing illness (21%) and protecting citizens from cross-border health threats (9%).
The Council, co-legislator on this dossier, held an orientation debate on the matter in December 2011, and should adopt a partial general position on 22 June. For its part, the European Pariliament is set to hold a first vote in the Committee on the Environment (ENVI), on 20 June.
To recall, during a debate, on 2 December 2011, several member states expressed their reservations on the name of the programme. Some of these countries also put forward certain minor criticisms, particularly regarding the choice of instrument (a regulation), the absence of measures against health inequality, and the way the budget was shared between the chosen objectives.
At the conference, the Deputy Director-General of DG Health and Consumers, Martin Seychell, laid out the future challenges that the EU will have to face on the issue of health. Specifically, he referred to demographic ageing, limited economic and professional resources, the control and prevention of rare illnesses, cross-border health threats, the rapid development of health technology, the need to ensure universal access to quality health care despite the resource limitations, and the need to improve profitable and sustainable health care systems.
The Commission also presented for the first time its new health data tool, HEIDI ((Health in Europe: Information and Data Interface), which presents online information on the state of the population’s health, health determinants, health services and other related subjects
The European journalism prize for health competition was also launched
(2). Now in its fourth consecutive year, the competition rewards articles orginally published in the print or electronic media on one of the following subjects: 1. one or several themes from the ‘Europe for patients’ campaign; 2. active and healthy ageing, on the occasion of the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations; and 3. the theme for the special prize: stopping smoking’. The first prize in the competition is a cheque for €6,000. n
(1) ec.europa.eu/health/heidi(2) ec.europa.eu/health-eu/journalist_prize/index_en.htm