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Achieving EU Health Strategy objectives should be easier in future

© The Council of the European Union

At today’s meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) in Luxembourg, EU Health Ministers adopted conclusions on implementing the EU Health Strategy presented by the European Commission in October last year. The key to achieving strategy goals and resolving other important strategic issues is intensified structured cooperation between the Council and the Commission. According to the Council President, Slovenian Health Minister Zofija Mazej Kukovič, “The increased commitment of the EU Member States and the Council to the area of health in the EU and in issues with an impact on health and health systems as well as closer cooperation with the Commission would mean real added value for the EU Member States. It would also ensure the integration of health into all policies.”

The ministers confirmed the proposal on reworking the mandate of the high-level group on health care drafted by the Slovenia Presidency in cooperation with the EU Member States. Through appropriate high-level representation of the Member States and the European Commission, this body would enable discussions on strategic matters related to health and healthcare systems, determine priority tasks, objectives and necessary actions at the EU level and monitor their implementation. Through its working methods and mandate, the group on health care would thus assist the Council in implementing its strategic role of addressing and defining key health issues at EU level.

In future, the European Commission is expected to actively support this strategic cooperation with appropriate contributions from all the sectors that may impact on health. At the same time, the Commission undertook to examine existing structures in the area of health and determine criteria for rationalising these structures to avoid the duplication of efforts and ensure efficiency.

At their meeting, the Council of Ministers also adopted conclusions on information to patients on medicinal products. The Council President, Slovenian Health Minister Zofija Mazej Kukovič, commented, “The Council conclusions seek to express the common position of the EU Member States on providing information to patients on medicinal products”, adding that, once the conclusions were adopted, she had therefore proposed a political debate aimed at identifying how to effectively distinguish medicinal information and advertising.

The ministers were unanimous in considering that information on medicines to which patients had access must be high in quality, objective, reliable, complete, understandable and non-promotional. The ban on advertising prescription medicines should be maintained, and interpretations and definitions as to what distinguished medicine-related advertising and information should be harmonised.

The ministers also mentioned the urgent need to develop models enabling activities in this field to be monitored and supervised, and the need to reduce the current differences between EU Member States in terms of the accessibility of information on medicines to patients.


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Date: 13.06.2008