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Economic impact of epidemics and pandemics

27-02-2020

Despite significant medical progress over the last centuries, infectious diseases such as influenza or malaria still represent a considerable threat to society. While some are endemic to specific geographical regions, others can spread, becoming epidemics or pandemics. While the first and most crucial aspect of an epidemic is, and will always remain, the loss of human life, the spread of a virus can also have important repercussions for national or regional economies. The evidence reported in various ...

Despite significant medical progress over the last centuries, infectious diseases such as influenza or malaria still represent a considerable threat to society. While some are endemic to specific geographical regions, others can spread, becoming epidemics or pandemics. While the first and most crucial aspect of an epidemic is, and will always remain, the loss of human life, the spread of a virus can also have important repercussions for national or regional economies. The evidence reported in various studies indicates that epidemic disease impacts on a country's economy through several channels, including the health, transportation, agricultural and tourism sectors. At the same time, trade with other countries may also be impacted, while the interconnectedness of modern economies means that an epidemic can also implicate international supply chains. These considerations, as well as the fact that rapid urbanisation, increasing international travel and climate change all render epidemic outbreaks a global and not simply a local phenomenon, imply that it is important for all countries to take necessary measures to counter this threat. In this context, several initiatives have been proposed, ranging from a single measure (e.g. investing in new antibiotics), to broader solutions to be adopted by developing and developed countries alike. In the European Union (EU), healthcare organisation and provision are Member State prerogatives and responsibilities. The EU's actions in this area therefore aim at complementing national policies to help Member States face common challenges, such as epidemics. This support takes place via coordination and exchange of best practices between EU countries and health experts, financial support under Instruments for co-financing, (e.g. the Horizon 2020 research programme and European Fund for Strategic Investments), and the adoption of relevant legislation. The European Parliament has taken the opportunity, through own-initiative resolutions, to highlight the need for further actions.

Addressing health inequalities in the European Union: Concepts, action, state of play

19-02-2020

Tackling socially determined inequalities in health, both between and within European Union (EU) Member States, is still a major challenge. This analysis describes the main concepts and gives examples for health inequalities across the EU. It then presents an overview of the work accomplished at international and EU levels. It shows, in particular, how the EU institutions, bodies and agencies have contributed to reducing health inequalities, notwithstanding that Member States have the main responsibility ...

Tackling socially determined inequalities in health, both between and within European Union (EU) Member States, is still a major challenge. This analysis describes the main concepts and gives examples for health inequalities across the EU. It then presents an overview of the work accomplished at international and EU levels. It shows, in particular, how the EU institutions, bodies and agencies have contributed to reducing health inequalities, notwithstanding that Member States have the main responsibility for health policy. The analysis then goes on to depict stakeholder views, before closing with an outlook on avenues for further action.

Europe's Beating Cancer plan: Launch of an EU-wide debate

31-01-2020

On 4 February 2020, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, the European Commission will initiate a broad stakeholder debate on the proposed Europe's Beating Cancer plan, to be rolled out towards the end of the year. The launch event will be held in the European Parliament in Brussels, supported by the MEPs Against Cancer Interest Group. It will bring together political leaders, representatives from international organisations, health ministries, leading academics, scientists and health professionals ...

On 4 February 2020, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, the European Commission will initiate a broad stakeholder debate on the proposed Europe's Beating Cancer plan, to be rolled out towards the end of the year. The launch event will be held in the European Parliament in Brussels, supported by the MEPs Against Cancer Interest Group. It will bring together political leaders, representatives from international organisations, health ministries, leading academics, scientists and health professionals, the private sector and non-governmental organisations, and cancer patients and survivors.

Cross-border threats to health: EU action on preparedness and response

10-01-2020

Serious threats to health – such as those due to infectious disease outbreaks or environmental factors – do not respect borders. They do, however, require cross-border cooperation and a coordinated response. Decision No 1082/2013/EU is the framework for European Union action on health emergencies. It provides for information exchange, risk assessment and joint procurement, among other mechanisms. The EU-level response is coordinated by the Health Security Committee. The European Centre for Disease ...

Serious threats to health – such as those due to infectious disease outbreaks or environmental factors – do not respect borders. They do, however, require cross-border cooperation and a coordinated response. Decision No 1082/2013/EU is the framework for European Union action on health emergencies. It provides for information exchange, risk assessment and joint procurement, among other mechanisms. The EU-level response is coordinated by the Health Security Committee. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control meanwhile plays a crucial role in identifying, assessing and communicating threats to health from communicable diseases. Parliament has adopted own-initiative and legislative resolutions focusing both on the general and more specific aspects of cross-border threats to health. At global level, all EU Member States are party to the legally binding International Health Regulations that require them to develop, strengthen and maintain core public health capacities for surveillance and response. Implementation is coordinated by the World Health Organization. Going forward, Member States have expressed interest in exploiting the potential of joint procurement beyond pandemic influenza vaccines. Moreover, a joint action on strengthened International Health Regulations and preparedness in the EU has recently been launched, focusing, in particular, on countering biological and chemical terror attacks in Europe across the health, security and civil protection sectors.

World AIDS Day 2019

29-11-2019

Every year, 1 December marks World AIDS Day, proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) in 1988 and aimed mainly at raising awareness. This year's specific theme, 'Communities make a difference', draws attention to the crucial role of community health workers and communities of people living with HIV, highlighting their contribution to ending the epidemic. World AIDS Day also offers an opportunity to take stock of progress, globally and in the EU.

Every year, 1 December marks World AIDS Day, proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) in 1988 and aimed mainly at raising awareness. This year's specific theme, 'Communities make a difference', draws attention to the crucial role of community health workers and communities of people living with HIV, highlighting their contribution to ending the epidemic. World AIDS Day also offers an opportunity to take stock of progress, globally and in the EU.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Stella Kyriakides - Health

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Health and social security

28-06-2019

While responsibility for health and social security lies primarily with the governments of the individual European Union (EU) Member States, the EU complements national policies, especially those with a cross-border dimension. In a recent poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than two thirds of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on health and social security. EU health policy aims to foster good health, protect citizens from health threats and support dynamic health ...

While responsibility for health and social security lies primarily with the governments of the individual European Union (EU) Member States, the EU complements national policies, especially those with a cross-border dimension. In a recent poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than two thirds of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on health and social security. EU health policy aims to foster good health, protect citizens from health threats and support dynamic health systems. It is mainly implemented through EU action programmes, currently the third health programme (2014-2020). Challenges include tackling the health needs of an ageing population and reducing the incidence of preventable chronic diseases. Since 2014, steps forward have been made in a number of areas, including antimicrobial resistance, childhood obesity, health systems, medical devices and vaccination. EU action on social security issues in the EU is closely related to the implementation of what is known as the European Pillar of Social Rights as well as labour market developments. The EU helps to promote social cohesion, seeking to foster equality as well as solidarity through adequate, accessible and financially sustainable social protection systems and social inclusion policies. EU spending on social security is tied to labour market measures. Progress can be observed on issues such as work-life balance and equal opportunities, but there is more to do. In the future, social protection schemes will need to be further adapted to the new labour market realities (fewer manufacturing jobs, atypical contracts, 'platform work', etc.). In its proposal for the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework, the European Commission plans to boost funding to improve workers' employment opportunities, and strengthen social cohesion through an enlarged 'European Social Fund Plus'. The fund would also incorporate finance for the stand-alone health programme, with the aim of creating synergies with the other building blocks of the European Pillar of Social Rights: equal opportunities and access to the labour market; fair working conditions; and social protection and inclusion. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Boosting cooperation on health technology assessment

15-04-2019

The European Commission has proposed a regulation on health technology assessment (HTA). HTA is a research-based tool that supports decision-making in healthcare by assessing the added value of a given health technology compared to others. The proposal would provide the basis for permanent EU-level cooperation in four areas. Member States would still be responsible for assessing the non-clinical (economic, ethical, social, etc.) aspects of health technology, and for pricing and reimbursement. While ...

The European Commission has proposed a regulation on health technology assessment (HTA). HTA is a research-based tool that supports decision-making in healthcare by assessing the added value of a given health technology compared to others. The proposal would provide the basis for permanent EU-level cooperation in four areas. Member States would still be responsible for assessing the non-clinical (economic, ethical, social, etc.) aspects of health technology, and for pricing and reimbursement. While Member States could choose to delay participation in the joint work until three years after the rules enter into force, it would become mandatory after six years. Stakeholders have broadly welcomed the proposal. National parliaments, however, are divided in their appreciation of it. The Council has not yet agreed its position; technical discussions continue. Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on 13 September 2018, and the report was voted in plenary on 3 October. However, with interinstitutional trilogue negotiations unable to start, on the Council side, Parliament adopted its final position at first reading on 14 February 2019.

Protecting workers against carcinogens and mutagens: Third proposal

20-03-2019

The European Commission is undertaking a phased process to amend Directive 2004/37/EC (the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive), expanding its scope and including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer- or mutation-causing chemical agents. The third proposal to amend the directive addresses a further five agents. The agreement on the proposal reached after trilogue negotiations now needs to be confirmed by Parliament, with a vote expected to take place during the ...

The European Commission is undertaking a phased process to amend Directive 2004/37/EC (the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive), expanding its scope and including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer- or mutation-causing chemical agents. The third proposal to amend the directive addresses a further five agents. The agreement on the proposal reached after trilogue negotiations now needs to be confirmed by Parliament, with a vote expected to take place during the March II plenary session.

Mobile phones and health: Where do we stand?

20-03-2019

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing. There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in ...

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing. There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in a variety of ways, and studies have been criticised for their methodological flaws, lack of statistical significance, and bias. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified radiofrequency electromagnet fields as possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. The European Union defined basic restrictions for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields in Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC, setting maximum values that should not to be exceeded. Moreover, in view of the scientific uncertainty, the European Environment Agency advises taking a precautionary approach. Two sets of large-scale experimental studies involving laboratory animals, one from the United States National Toxicology Program and another from the Italian Ramazzini Institute, have recently brought the debate to the fore again. Both found varying levels of evidence of certain tumours in some of the animals tested. The results have nevertheless prompted diverging conclusions.

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