January, 21, 2019
Message from EHP President: Is now the best time?
The Treaty on European Union clearly defines the responsibility for the definition of the health policy and for the organization and delivery of health services and medical care. Generally based on the principle of social solidarity, it is in the main competency of the Member States. With regard to health, the European Union has limited role respecting the principle of subsidiarity. Despite of the national competency, is it still necessary to create a health policy at the European level? Does Europe have any role on healthcare?
It is well known that health is the most precious commodity that one owns. Moreover, the right to the highest attainable standard of health as one of the fundamental human rights puts a clear set of legal obligations on states. Health is also undoubtedly an integral part of social and economic life. According to a recent World Bank publication, healthy societies achieve economic growth 1.5 percent higher than unhealthy what makes for the EU as a whole difference of some €250 billion. Even when numbers show that health has great impact on the common prosperity, it is many times facing a huge underestimation.
Nowadays, Europe is considered as the world’s most advanced system of welfare State, but European governments face a growing number of major health challenges, which are putting unprecedented pressures on public health systems. An ageing population, raising health costs, digitalization and data protection needs, local epidemics of vaccine – preventable diseases and environmental determinants that influence health are the main emerging issues that are keeping governments and scientific community busy in finding an adequate solution that would equally and adequately meet citizens’ needs in the EU.
Despite its limited competences with regard to health, the European union has an impact, particularly by encouraging cooperation between the Member States, funding health programmes and reinforcing internal market rules. The Article 168 of the Treaty of Lisbon says that “Union action, which shall complement national policies, shall be directed towards improving public health.” In recent years Europe has experienced outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, that were almost eradicated. Up to present time the saying: “Disease knows no borders!”, was 100% proven. It is only one of many examples where we cannot overlook and underestimate the power of unity and international collaboration. Many of previously named challenges in health care could be potentially solved through the quality of European initiatives.
At this point, the role of the European Health Parliament (EHP), an initiative committed to make health and innovation a priority for Europe, starts in providing disruptive and actionable solutions for health. By empowering and putting together 60 highly qualified young professionals from all around the EU, the EHP assembles a very unique team that aims to solve the most emerging problems by creating five bold policy recommendations at the end of its mandate.
But this mandate of the EHP is a breakthrough. With the upcoming European Parliament elections, this edition is going to be present at the time when the course of the European Union will be changing and it will try to ensure the highest priority to citizens’ health at the heart of the future Europe.
If not now, when? If not us, who? #WeRun4Health
PharmDr. Katarína Gatialová
President of the 4th edition of the European Health Parliament