The Third Health Programme (2014-2020)

The European Union launches a multiannual health framework with a 30% budget increase

The European Parliament and the Council have recently adopted the Third Health Programme for the period 2014-2020. The Programme, presented in Brussels on April 11, will be the main tool to support the implementation of EU legislation on health and will finance projects and not-for-profit organisations aimed at enhancing health in Europe.

Built on the experience of the previous two EU programmes for health (2003-2008 and 2008-2013), the 3rd Health Programme will focus on reducing health inequalities across Member States by promoting health, encouraging innovation, increasing the sustainability of health systems and protecting Union citizens from serious cross-border health threats. Although health is a competence of the Member States, the EU can complement, support and add value to their policies.

The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) welcomes this legislation as it has a great potential to improve life of European citizens affected by asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD).

What is new in the 3rd Health Programme?

The economic crisis has shown the capital role of strong national health systems to provide health quality service and prevention while ensuring universal access to healthcare. Witness of health inequalities during the last years, investing in prevention and improving better access to healthcare remain a priority for the EU. The Health Programme allocation has increased by almost 30% when compared with the previous programme (in total, EUR 449.5 million for the period 2014-2020) but it still only accounts for less than 1% of the EU’s budget.

The funding will cover four thematic priorities for the next 7 years:
1.Promote health, prevent diseases and foster supportive environments for healthy lifestyles taking into account the “health in all policies” principle. Having advocated for this approach in the past EFA welcomes the “health in all policies” principle as a means to ensure a consistent and coherent response on issues affecting EU citizens and patients’ health. Moreover, the new Health Programme’s special attention to the advertising and marketing of tobacco products showcases the Commission’s willingness to fully implement, apply, monitor and constantly review EU tobacco-related legislation.

2.Protect Union citizens from serious cross-border health threats. Although this thematic will mainly tackle communicable diseases, the fact that the EU includes environment and climate change as a cause for cross-border health threats is a positive policy development. Indeed, environmental factors, in particular air quality, have direct link to the incidence of diseases such as asthma and COPD, and to the worsening of their and allergy’s symptoms. Cross-border cooperation, as well as evidence-based decision making on environmental and other health threats will be very much needed to inform prevention decisions and adopt the best healthcare services.

3.Contribute to innovative, efficient and sustainable health systems. The programme will support themes affecting an ageing society through innovation in awareness, prevention and early diagnosis, care and innovation in active ageing and independent living. EFA welcomes the inclusion of Mobile-Health (m-Health) within the Commission’s approach as an upcoming patient-centred response to diseases and a step forward to future self-disease management.

4.Facilitate access to better and safer healthcare for Union citizens. The programme aims at strengthening collaboration on patient safety and quality of healthcare and will support the establishment of European reference networks for patients. EFA considers this thematic a great opportunity to involve patients and share best practices.

How does the 3rd Health Programme work?

As an EU Programme, the funding allocated under this initiative will specifically support cooperation projects at EU level, joint actions by Member States health authorities, non-governmental bodies and cooperation with international organizations. The novelty in this third edition is that there might be a scope for long-term financing (up to three years) that could certainly contribute to develop longer-term strategies on patients’ representation.

The work plan to roll out this Programme is expected to be published in May 2014 and the funds will be managed by the European Commission through the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO), responsible for work plans and actions, and the Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA), entrusted to implement the health programme.

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