The Patient Access Partnership (PACT) warmly welcomes the recent Country Health Profiles and Companion report, published as part of the Commission’s ‘State of Health in the EU’ initiative and developed in combination with the OECD and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. The comprehensive reports are a valuable step towards the development of evidence-based policies for meaningful heath interventions and long-term integrated care.

PACT’s Partners actively contributed to a stakeholder discussion during a meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Access to Healthcare on 28 November. Attended and co-chaired by 4 of the Interest Group’s co-chairs the event was attended by some 60 key health stakeholders.

Speaking in the event, DG SANTE Director Andrzej Rys presented the two reports as ‘a package of factual high-quality evidence, which is at the service of policymakers, stakeholders and practitioners’. As one of the key conclusions, he underlined the need for Member States to invest more in health promotion and disease prevention, ‘to pave the way for more effective and efficient health systems’. Currently, some 80 % of health budgets are spent on communicable diseases, while only 3 % is spent on prevention.

Presenting the Country Health Profiles which focus on health status, risk factors, health systems descriptions and health system performance, Jens Wilkens (OECD) underlined that life expectancy has risen by over three years in the EU since 2000. However, ‘the gap between the countries with the highest and lowest life expectancy still exceeds 8 years’. Moreover, he stressed the ‘huge differences in self-reported health within and between countries’.

Josep Figueras (European Observatory on health Systems and Policies) focused on the health systems performance in the various countries, reported under three headings: effectiveness, accessibility and resilience. Apart from the need to ensure that prevention becomes a greater priority across the EU, he emphasized that healthcare needs to be people centred, ‘strengthening primary and patient centred care to better manage chronic diseases and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions’. He also underlined the need to improve timely access to good quality care, ‘particularly for disadvantaged groups, to reduce amenable mortality and promote greater health-related quality of life’.

As highlighted by Andrey Kovatchev MEP, ‘the EU level should not get lost in debates about EU health competence as EU citizens expect the EU to do more in relation to health care ‘the State of Health in the EU initiative may be a useful tool to do just that’.

Cristian Busoi MEP stated the Interest Group’s intention to continue to focus on ‘concrete actions to address health inequalities and ensure better health outcomes’, calling on participants ‘to push for change at national level’, making good use of the reports discussed today.


The report from the meeting is available below: