13 September 2021
CARE, - Healthcare

When the European Commission published the 2021 Work Programme of EU4Health in June, it was received with mixed feelings by civil society. On the one hand, it foresaw a significant increase in annual spending on health; on the other hand, it was widely seen as leaving behind EU health NGOs, due to the use of financial tools that do not favour their meaningful involvement and long-term engagement with the programme.

In September, the European Commission launched a stakeholder consultation to receive input on the priorities, strategy & needs that will define the next annual Work Programme 2022, in which EFA participated as it is a key instrument to change allergy, asthma and COPD prevention and care in Europe.

EFA patients’ EU priorities for 2022!

The consultation presented an opportunity for EFA and other stakeholders to indicate our views on what should be the next EU programme of activities, and suggested how the implementation of the Work Programme can be improved. In our response, EFA recommends the European Commission to focus on the following areas:

  • Disease prevention & health promotion, prioritising actions that reduce health inequalities, strengthen patients’ rights, and promote best practices in non-communicable diseases.
  • Preparedness & response to cross-border health threats, looking first at reinforcing critical health infrastructure and actions to secure basic care for vulnerable people
  • Enhancing the availability, accessibility & affordability of medical products and devices, through improved oversight of shortages, and the development of innovative products
  • Supporting integrated work among Member States’ health systems, for example through the new European Reference Networks (ERNs) on more complex and l diseases

EFA’s structural recommendations for a more effective Work Programme

How can the Commission be more effective in achieving these objectives? In close collaboration with the EU4Health Civil Society Alliance, EFA put forward recommendations that echo the demands of the wider EU health civil society, as they were shaped following the release of the 2021 Work Programme. In particular, we call on the Commission to:

  • Restore Operating Grants as a financing mechanism for civil society organisations, replacing the Action Grants prioritised in 2021. As highlighted in an open letter and a joint statement of the EU4Health Civil Society Alliance, both of which EFA has co-signed, it is only through Operating Grants that the role of civil society organisations can be secured and reinforced.
  • Allocate DG SANTE sufficient human resources, attention and EU4Health funding to address information, prevention and care of respiratory diseases, which have become an emergency due to COVID-19 and suffer from a persistent lack of priority.
  • Ensure meaningful consultation with the civil society, which is essential to ensure the Work Programme will better respond to real needs for a more efficient use of the budget, leaving no disease areas or population groups behind.

You can find the EFA response to the consultation here.