EU Health Coalition – New Manifesto for Healthier Europe
uropean citizens and healthcare systems are facing a perfect storm of ageing populations, growing prevalence of chronic diseases, and the geopolitical and energy crisis on the heels of the most severe pandemic in a century. They are also living in a new era of innovation and rapidly advancing science that, from genomics to data analytics, is pushing the boundaries for better health.
The EU Health Coalition is a multi-stakeholder initiative dedicated to driving change for a healthier Europe. They believe in a Europe where health and care systems are centred on people and patients. They ask for health and life sciences to be recognized as a 3rd strategic pillar for the future of Europe. Because at stake are Europeans’ health and wellbeing, and the continent’s ability to stay at the forefront of science and research to unlock that healthier future.
JOIN THEM in reminding European policymakers that keeping the health sector high on the political agenda is in the best interest of European citizens and economies, and of our planet!
Health is not only important for the individual person; people’s health and well-being are also drivers of economic prosperity. European citizens identified health and the economy as top priorities and issues of concern, with health in particular a key issue at national level. And the two – health and the economy – are interdependent with healthy, productive populations powering economic growth and development.
The COVID-19 crisis demonstrated that:
- health is fundamental to the wellbeing of individuals and families but also to our societies and economies;
- having a strong health research & innovation ecosystem in Europe means that our region can meet a health security crisis without being dependent on other regions in the world; and that
- meaningful public-private collaborations in Research & Development (R&D) and in the deployment of vaccination campaigns enable all stakeholders to respond together to major crises.
The time is now for health and the life science sector to be recognized as a strategic pillar for Europe, complementing and reinforcing the green and digital transitions!
On the heels of the most severe pandemic in decades, European healthcare systems are facing a perfect storm of ageing populations, growing prevalence of chronic diseases, significant health workforce shortages, and the unfolding energy, climate, cost of living, and geopolitical crises. But we are also living in a new era of rapidly advancing science and breakthrough innovation that, from genomics to data analytics, is pushing the boundaries for better health and creating new opportunities to meet unmet health needs, including for underserved populations, and create better health for future generations. At stake are Europeans’ health and wellbeing and the continent’s economic resilience, prosperity, strategic autonomy, and ability to stay at the forefront of science and research.
“With the 2024 European Parliament elections, we can spotlight the need for a robust and integrated strategy for health policy at the European level, building on a “One Health” approach. European Health Coalition believes that this is becoming increasingly critical to our people, our prosperity, and our planet.”
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN PRACTICE?
To deliver this vision, the EU Health Coalition proposes the following recommendations to EU policymakers. We believe these are practical and balanced, bold yet achievable.
- Make European health systems truly integrated and people-centred
- Invest in upskilling the European health workforce
- Reframe healthcare expenditure as an investment, not a cost
- Create the basis for Europe as a true research and innovation hub
- Create a health and life science office in the European Commission, reporting to a Vice President, to spearhead a coherent European strategy for this sector.
Make European health systems truly integrated and people-centred
European policies and instruments can be set up to support Member States, including at regional and local level, in putting people and patients at the centre of health systems. This means increasing patient involvement in decisionmaking at all levels, improving patient safety and implementing measures for patient-relevant outcomes of care and investing in health and digital health literacy.8
Invest in upskilling the European health workforce
Invest in upskilling the European health workforce, with a strong focus on sustainable digital infrastructure and data. The European public and private health sector are driven by people, and they can only meet the challenges and opportunities of the future with the right skill set. Deploying digital tools and upskilling and reskilling the healthcare workforce, including through skill mixing, will make European health systems more resilient and enable the digital transformation of the health sector. The private life science industries also have a continuous need for a skilled local workforce, including in biotechnology, data, and regulatory sciences.
Reframe healthcare expenditure as an investment, not a cost
Some necessary investments in health systems, from prevention to care, are hampered by current accounting rules which do not consider the long-term value in terms of health outcomes and future cost-savings. The European System of Accounts should be reviewed to enable the classification of certain health expenditure as investments rather than operational costs.
Create the basis for Europe as a true research and innovation hub
Create the basis for Europe as a true research and innovation hub, including by: 1) robust funding through the MFF of fundamental research and early discovery into unmet health needs, 2) establishing the right European financial instruments to scale up capital for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises, and making sure that scientific discoveries can be developed in Europe, and 3) ensuring a competitive and predictable environment for innovation and investment in Research & Development in Europe.
Create a health and life science office in the European Commission, reporting to a Vice President, to spearhead a coherent European strategy for this sector
Create a health and life science office in the European Commission, reporting to a Vice President, to spearhead a coherent European strategy for this sector, building a bridge between relevant Commission services including DG SANTE, DG HERA, DG RTD, DG CNECT and DG GROW. Only by linking EU policies for public health, research and industrial policy can Europe deliver a coherent vision, strategy and policies for a vibrant endto-end health research and care eco-system.