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17 December 2020
CARE, - Healthcare, - Medicines

As the voice for over 200 million people living with allergy and airways diseases in Europe, EFA participated in the European Commission consultation to evaluate the 3rd Health Programme of the European Union.

The consultation, launched in November, sought feedback from stakeholders on the establishment of a third Programme for the Union's action in the field of health (2014-2020).

Important to bring health to non-health EU policies

EFA previously took part in the 2017 , recognising the importance of the Health Programme to deliver on the EU’s mandate to protect public health.

We acknowledge the 3rd Health Programme’s contribution in trends such as the push towards digital health; increased exchange between health-related civil society organisations; improved access to better and safer healthcare through schemes such as the European Reference Networks, as well as rules that enable cross-border cooperation among Member States.

Insufficient to tackle chronic disease, cross-border health threats, and patient involvement

However, we regret that the 3rd Health Programme has executed a rather narrow interpretation of the EU’s mandate on health, ultimately impacting the EU’s efficiency to protect people from chronic disease challenges and cross-border health threats:

  • There is insufficient work complete to develop the Programme’s contribution “robust mechanisms to detect, assess and manage major cross-border health threats” from severe acute respiratory infection (SARS), among others (recital 3 of the Regulation). Unfortunately, the activities developed under the priority to protect Union citizens from serious cross-border health threats) have proved insufficient to protect our health.
  • The implementation of the programme has not been properly resourced to address chronic disease, despite that chronic disease accounts for 80% of premature deaths in the EU. We continue calling on the EU to adopt a comprehensive EU strategy to tackle chronic diseases.
  • The objective of working towards more patient empowerment and involvement has been hampered by financial rules limiting the access to public EU funding for patient groups and other civil society organisations. In addition, there has been practically no funding in the health programme available for European-level civil society, including for project grants.
  • As patient representatives, we have suffered from the reduced opportunities to contribute to the Health Programme. There have been limited EU policy initiatives on health, a gap that has resulted in less communication between EU officials and representatives, and patient groups.

4th Health Programme will increase EU coordination and health action

The COVID-19 pandemic and crisis has shown today how important and life-saving EU action on health is, and how health should be a priority policy. At EFA we are grateful the fourth EU Health Programme 2021-2027 will deepen the coordination and enrich the mandate of the EU for emergency preparedness and response against health threats.

We also believe that the EU4Health programme should foresee a solid, inclusive, and clear governance framework to effectively manage and monitor the implementation of the programme. To accomplish this, there is need for a clear and meaningful civil society role in the governance of the programme.

Read our full response to the evaluation of the 3rd EU Health Programme consultation and learn more about the European Commission consultation.