€5.1bn EU4Health Programme will address future pandemics and sanitary threats

It will make affordable medicines and medical devices more available

Photo: EP Cristian-Silviu Bușoi.

With a wide majority, MEPs endorsed the provisional agreement reached with the Council on the new EU4Health Programme for 2021-2027. Its objective is boost quality and resilience of EU health systems, preparing them to cope with future sanitary threats and pandemics. At least 20% of its overall financial envelope of €5.1bn will be spent on disease prevention and health promotion.

Its scope covers areas where the EU can clearly add value, complementing Member States’ policies. The programme aims to strengthen health systems by supporting countries to coordinate with each other and share data. Medicines and medical devices will be more available, accessible and affordable.

“Our citizens' health must always come first”, said Cristian-Silviu Bușoi (EPP, RO), Parliament's lead negotiator for the EU4Health Programme.

He underlined that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the need for well-defined and adequately-financed health instruments. “We also need to boost innovation and invest more in health in general. It was crucial to increase funding for the EU4Health Programme from €1.7bn to €5.1bn in order to be able to deal with future pandemics and health threats, and to make our health systems more resilient,” he added.

The programme will prepare health systems more thoroughly for major cross-border health threats, enabling EU countries to tackle not only future epidemics, but also issues related to ageing population and health inequalities, among other long-term challenges.

Looking ahead, this instrument will prop up actions linked to e-health and the introduction of the European “health data space”. It will promote access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and will support improving mental health and accelerating the fight against cancer.

The lawmakers underscored in the debate preceding the vote that the new programme will have a key place in fighting health inequalities, both between EU countries and between different social groups. They commended the creation at EU level of a stockpile of essential medical supplies and equipment, which complements the work being done under rescEU, and a reserve of medical and support staff to be mobilised in the event a health crisis.

 Now the Council has to formally approve the regulation. It will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. It will apply retroactively from 1 January this year.

 

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