Brussels (Brussels Morning) Never before has the EU needed such an injection of capital to deal with
the near-collapse of healthcare systems across the bloc.
Portuguese MEP Sara Cerdas (S&D) is both a doctor and a member of the Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety’s (ENVI) Committee. In this opinion piece she writes about how the EU4Health programme can revolutionise access to healthcare in the wake of the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EU4Health programme currently has a budget of 5.1 billion euros, a commendable outcome
given that the Council’s original proposal was for a budget of 1.7 billion euros.
For the first time in EU history, we will have an ambitious, standalone health programme, one that
aims to meet the main health needs of the entire bloc and its citizens, while providing more
coordination and groundwork to respond to public health emergencies.
At its core, the programme respects the concepts of the One Health approach and the Health in All
This is significant since the pandemic has proved to us that we cannot dissociate human health from
our interactions with the environment around us as well as with animal health. It is vital to our
overall wellbeing, that we recognise importance of these three interfaces.
On the other hand, the EU4Health programme aims to know more about health determinants.
Health, as we now realize, does not merely mean the absence of disease — it is the combination of
all the factors that influence it, whether directly or indirectly.
EU4Health will focus on the disease prevention, on health promotion and on quality of life issues,
with a focus on improvements in the health literacy of populations.
I’m sure that this will allow better policymaking for health across the different sectors, resulting in the enhanced wellbeing of all communities and people.
Nor should we forget health inequalities. The programme is commited to reducing them, by
guaranteeing universal accessibility to healthcare services and improving healthcare quality.
And we can do more by implementing a digital agenda. The European Health Data Space is a
powerful tool to improve access to health data across the EU, providing more evidence-based data
to accelerate research and development across the Union.
Clearly we must avoid the mistakes of the past, not repeat them. To ensure this, we need to address
the main health challenges and show a more resilient and empowered Europe, one that is prepared
for all future health threats.
The Europeans asked for a better health response from the European Union and we will deliver it.
One thing we can say for sure now is that with the EU4Health programme, we can work for a
sustainable future and a true European Health Union, one that leaves no one behind.