Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 173

not) medicines, in terms of both availability and pricing; this would show
the EU as delivering on its ‘solidarity’ mandate within the Union.
Finally, health and trade. We need to take into account that in the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the
United States, Brussels must ensure that all EU member states retain
the right to legislate in the field of public health in the way they deem
necessary to protect their citizens, even if it may affect the potential
benefits of corporate investors.
Legislative role
According to Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European
Union (TFEU), the EU is fully entitled to encourage and support the co-
operation of member states in matters of public health. Very concretely,
the EU should thus create a framework on chronic diseases
encompassing at least prevention and health promotion, screening and
early diagnosis, research co-operation and co-ordination, data collection
and e-health. Such action would allow all stakeholders (governments,
health professionals, patients, etc.) to streamline their efforts and
guarantee a level playing field for tackling all chronic non-communicable
diseases to the benefit of all citizens across the EU.
A key part of such a chronic diseases framework should be a
commitment to be more proactive in the use of other legal bases and
instruments available under the treaty to improve public health and
support member state action. The Union’s limited competence on health
in Article 168 TFEU needs to be compensated by the use of the internal
market, taxation and other relevant legal bases to enact legislation. Such
action would dramatically reduce levels of chronic disease in the EU and
have the greatest impact on improving public health and the economy.
In addition, EU member states that introduce targeted and evidence-
based policies such as minimum unit pricing for alcohol products should
be supported by the European Commission and other member states,
as long as they comply with the fundamental principles of the treaties.
Comprehensive framework
In view of the crushing burden of chronic diseases which all EU member
states experience, the Union must adopt a comprehensive framework
on chronic diseases that leverages the supranational and national
regulatory competences and resources in all policies to achieve the best
outcomes for the health and wealth of the EU and its citizens. In essence,
the framework must:
Incorporate targets – as set out in the global NCD framework,
including the overarching target of a 25% reduction in premature
death from chronic diseases by 2025;
Intervene on health determinants – such as tobacco, nutrition, alcohol,
the environment, health inequalities and physical inactivity;
Invest in prevention – such as early detection and diagnosis,
population-based screening and population-wide measures to reduce
smoking, alcohol, salt, fat and sugar consumption and increase
physical activity;
agriculture, trade, transport, energy and labour,
and the European Chronic Disease Alliance
(ECDA) is ready to help the Health
Commissioner go beyond his strict mandate
and reach out to these sectors.
Another area of interest is COP21, focusing on
climate change and health. We need to
contemplate how EU institutions and civil
society can best respond to the threat caused
by climate change and the impact it may have
on chronic diseases, as well as reflect on
whether the health system is ready.
We need to put together a comprehensive
framework to address chronic diseases with the
help of civil societies involved in dealing with all
aspects of CDs. Another area is the assessment
of health systems’ performance and an
evaluation of EU member states’ readiness in
terms of organisation of resources (all kinds) to
tackle long term chronic diseases. The word
‘performance’ must not only be taken in its
financial meaning but also as adequate delivery
of health services (care), disease prevention
and research; the ECDA can offer assistance.
We need to deliberate on chronic diseases’ risk
factors – do we have genuine political leaders
ready to propose, vote on and implement bold
public health policies that will help prevent the
onset of chronic diseases, in fields such as
alcohol, salt, trans-fat, sugar or tobacco?
The role of patients is also essential. The EU, as
well as its member states, needs to put the
patient at the centre of the organisation of
healthcare and disease prevention. The Union
must provide access to medicines and reflect
on its role to facilitate access to (innovative or
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
H E A L T H : D I S E A S E R E S E A R C H
Cutting down on
smoking can help
reduce the risk of
developing a
chronic disease
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