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Public Health Financing on EU agenda

Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted their position on the proposal for EU financing for public health activities 2014 onwards. In their position on the Health for Growth Programme MEPs stress that environmental factors need to be considered in disease prevention.

The European Parliament and EU Health ministers are currently preparing the adoption of the EU financing of public health activities 2014-2020. The proposal has a financial volume of 446 million EUR and is centered on 4 specific objectives:

  • Innovative and sustainable health systems
  • Increased access to better and safer healthcare for EU citizens
  • Prevent disease and promote good health
  • Protect citizens from cross-border health threats

HEAL’s reaction to the vote in the leading EP ENVI committee is mixed.

We welcome that MEPs have set the course for better consideration of environmental factors for (chronic) disease prevention. Environment is now included in the list of cost-effective prevention measures for chronic diseases, as a key risk factor, so on equal terms with lifestyle factors such as smoking, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet etc.

This inclusion will make it easier that activities addressing environmental pollution, for example health impact assessment of air pollution or noise, and measures to bring down exposure to harmful pollutants etc are eligible for financing under the new programme. Internal and external air pollution is also mentioned as a key health issue to be considered under prevention activities.

However, we are deeply concerned that MEPs do not see the need to outline climate change related in the new programme.

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted repeatedly, climate change is the greatest challenge for public health in the 21st century. Health plays a central role in both climate change adaptation, but also mitigation measures.

Yet the EU Commission’s proposal has only included general reference that climate change can be financed under this programme, but not established a dedicated activity for it. HEAL is convinced that adaptation to climate change needs to be a specific activity line in the new programme, just as Active and Healthy Ageing, rare diseases and tackling antibiotic resistance are.

Including in the list of specific activities would increase targeted (financial) support for the EU adaptation strategy, which is one of the EU policy priorities of the next months. Policy coherence is especially important for climate change mitigation policies, as these can produce immediate co-benefits for public health, but also eventually increase the strain on health (e.g. in case of increased burning of biomass).

HEAL hopes that EU Health Ministers – who are next to adopt the position – will give support to promote environmental prevention opportunities and financing for climate and health activities. Cyprus, which currently holds the EU Presidency, announced that they aim to find an agreement until December 2012.

For further information please see also the position of our members European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients Association (EFA).

Originally posted on 9 July 2012

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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