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Health Ministers discuss EU role in health cooperation

Published : 10 Dec 2019, 03:28

  DF Report

Photo Source Ministry of Family Affairs and Social Services.

The health aspects of the economy of wellbeing, better access to medicines and the EU’s role and priorities in global health cooperation were the main topics of the meeting of EU health ministers on Wednesday.

The meeting was chaired by Krista Kiuru, Finland’s Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, said an official press release.

Mental health, ageing and digitalisation all linked to the economy of wellbeing

The health ministers discussed practical ways to promote people’s health and wellbeing from an economy of wellbeing perspective. The discussion was based on the policy recommendations in the conclusions on the economy of wellbeing adopted in October by the Council presided by Finland. The economy of wellbeing entails a mutually supportive interdependence between people's wellbeing and the economy. Investing in people's wellbeing means putting the economy on a sustainable footing and strengthening the stability of society. The topic was addressed via three themes with an intrinsic link to the economy of wellbeing: mental health, ageing and digitalisation.

In the course of the discussion on mental health, the Member States presented to the new Commission their views on what the EU’s future cross-sectoral mental health strategy should look like. The health ministers pointed out that merely treating mental health disorders is not sufficient to ensure the wellbeing of the people. The objectives listed in the Council conclusions on the economy of wellbeing received broad support. These include the promotion of mental health, the prevention and early detection of problems, timely and effective treatment, and the destigmatisation of mental disorders.

The ministers stressed that anticipating changes in Europe’s ageing and demographic development is a prerequisite for successful policies across all sectors. Social and digital innovation must be used to the full when searching for solutions to ageing. Promoting health contributes to increasing people’s longevity, but also to reducing the cost of care.

Changes based on the digitalisation of operating models have the potential to increase the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare and the quality of services as well as to counter inequalities in access and outcomes. In many EU countries, there is still something of a disconnect between health and social services. The contributions emphasised the crucial importance of digital information systems in enabling integrated care.

The Member States also presented their ideas on the Commission’s initiative promoting cross-border exchange of health data. The idea is to establish a common European health data space to support the secondary use of health data in research and innovation. In addition to common EU legislation, launching a health data space would require the Member States to enact national legislation on data protection, data security and ethics.