EU4health or EU4cuts?

If there is something we understood this year, it is the importance of health systems. Covid-19 was a wake-up call for many people regarding the concepts of preparedness and prevention. After being disregarded and dismissed for years, these concepts are now gaining media attention. This is a pivotal moment for changing the way we see and manage the public health system. The European Union has a great opportunity to build a better and more resilient health system.  While a concrete proposal with a budget of €9.4 billion was presented by the EU Commission last May, the European Council decided that at the end of July there would be an inconceivable 82% cut from the original budget.

The EU Commission proposal, called EU4health, is a health funding program for the period 2021-2027 that embeds the One Health approach, where human health is linked with animal health and the health of the environment.  The program has been developed in reaction to the Covid-19 health crisis, but its role goes beyond preventing and managing health crises. In fact, it aims to work with long-term challenges such as, health inequalities, the burden of non-communicable diseases, and diseases related to pollution and environmental degradation, as well as access to digital innovations.

After several days of debates during the Special European Council meeting in July, the Council reached consensus on an EU budget deal for the following seven years. Amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, of the proposed €9.4 billion only €1.7 billion of EU budget 2021-2027 was allocated to the EU4health program. Furthermore, the EU Council decided on budget cuts for the  EU health research programs (Horizon Europe) that complement EU4health.

While welcoming the European Councils initiative to allocate funds to a newly proposed and urgently needed health program, it is regrettably far behind the ambitious plans of the EU Commission. These cuts risk jeopardizing the future of European healthcare. In a press conference following the Special European Council meeting on the 21st of July, the Commission president Von Der Leyen deplored this  decision by  the EU Council. And the majority of Europeans are in agreement. According to a Eurobarometer poll, just prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, 70% of the Europeans would like the EU to do more for health.

 

Health challenges, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, prove that health concerns do not stop at national borders and require a united European, if not global response. Prioritizing the EUs public health funding is more urgently needed than ever before. EU4health could pave the way into a Europe that promotes the well-being of all its people in a healthy and sustainable environment. The Europe, and the World, that we at SOGH envision too.

To support EU4health, we invite other organizations to join us in signing the Europe, let’s do more for health statement. Individuals that actively want to shape the European Union we are living in, can make their voices heard by reaching out to their country’s representative member of the European Parliament. You have the right to let them know about your concerns regarding the EU4health funding. You can find your representative member of the European Parliament and their contact details here.

If you want, you can use a drafted letter that we formulated in different languages to make it easier for you to reach out to the European Parliament. Click below for download.

What would you want the EU to prioritize funding for? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us via blogger@sogh.se.

By: Giorgia Dalla Libera Marchiori and Fiona Koeltringer