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The European Union and its Member States seek to promote good health and safety of EU citizens. Each Member State is responsible for effective functioning of its own healthcare system at the national level; however, certain issues often need to be addressed at the EU level. The EU healthcare policy is thus directed towards expanding an open method of healthcare harmonisation by coordination of efforts in the fight against the spread of communicable diseases, as well as towards supporting the national measures for rising awareness as regards healthcare issues.

During its presidency to the Council of the European Union, the Slovenia’s Presidency shall continue to strive for the implementation of joint priorities and commitments of the presiding “Troika”. These joint commitments were mutually developed within the framework of the 18-month programme of German-Portuguese-Slovenian Presidency. They are based on the promotion of health by encouraging a healthy lifestyle, particularly healthy nutrition and physical activity, prevention and control of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and flu pandemics, innovations in healthcare and accessibility of healthcare services.

Slovenia as the presiding country shall concentrate on reducing the burden of cancer disease, which remains one of the more severe public health problems in the EU regardless of the numerous activities and endeavours of the Member States. Our goal is to promote additional activities at a political level, and to adopt orientations in support of different measures both at the level of EU and in Member States, which shall – considering the existing discrepancies between the Member States – contribute to the promotion of healthy lifestyle and the prevention of cancer as well as to a more successful treatment and a quality living with this disease. Each year, about three million EU citizens develop some type of cancer. Many of these could be prevented by a more consistent inclusion of public health objectives into policies in different areas; in many cases a cure or a better treatment outcome could be achieved by preventive screening programmes drawn-up and implemented correctly, while investments in the research at the level of EU would result in a more competent professional approach to these patients and a quality living with this disease. Slovenia shall strive to address the issue of cancer at a higher political level within the Community framework.

Besides addressing widespread disease such as cancer, during its Presidency of the Council of the EU, Slovenia shall lay stress on the reduction of alcohol use and the damage associated with excessive consumption, the latter being the third most important causative factor of disease and premature death in the European Union, especially among the younger population. Alcohol is also the main cause of health inequalities among the EU States as well as of domestic violence and violence against children. The problem should be addressed by the exchange of good practices and experience between the Member States, as well as by established examples of innovation in reducing alcohol-related accidents and injuries.

Furthermore, we shall point out the IT system development in healthcare, which facilitates faster intervention and more effective information exchange between health institutions. To this end, the Ministry of Health is going to organize an eHealth conference during the Presidency. Equal importance shall be attributed to the regular Pharmaceutical Forum aimed at ensuring the development of optimal drugs accessible to all EU residents. In terms of public health, the main objective of the Forum is to ensure physical and cost-effective accessibility of effective drugs and accurate information to the public on the acquisition and use of the mentioned drugs.

Besides the listed priorities and further implementation of the joint commitments of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, the dossiers on the agenda inherited from the preceding Presidencies shall be taken over. The foreseen more demanding dossiers include: the provision of healthcare services, which would ensure the European citizens high-quality and safe healthcare services and their flow; the European Health Strategy with its basic objective to define balance and comprehensiveness in the area of public health at the EU level, which shall contribute to a better health of European citizens; and the management of the area of human organ donation and transplantation.


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Date: 11.01.2008