Today the Informal European Union Council of Health Ministers - the first informal Council of Ministers during the Lithuanian Presidency of the European Union - has begun in Vilnius, Lithuania. The meeting started with delegates discussing the future of EU health systems, turning their attention towards sustainable healthcare systems.
As the Lithuanian Minister of Health Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis pointed out in his opening speech, EU healthcare systems are facing fundamental challenges: shifting demographic situation, economic hardships and assimilation of new technologies. "So far the healthcare systems are surviving the changes", says the Minister Andriukaitis, "The fact is that EU citizens want their healthcare systems not simply to be there, but to ensure the highest level of protection possible".
According to Mr. Tonio Borg, the EU Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner, the Commission is ready to support the EU member states in preparation to deal with the challenges ahead.
“We have an opportunity to improve our healthcare systems. And improvemnt does not meant cutting services - it means reorganizing in a cost effective way. Optimization is not a cost - it is an investment”, says the Commissioner Mr. Tonio Borg.
Professor of Economics and Management at IMT Fabio Pammolli stressed, that sustainable healthcare is closely linked to sustainability of public finances.
“There is an open question: how a shrinking and aging population is going to satisfy the increasing demand for financing healthcare”, Mr. Fabio Pammolli asked during his presentation.
“How to squeeze more efficiency”, asked Mr. Josep Figueras, the Director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and head of the WHO European Centre on Health Policy. During his speech, Mr. Joseph Figueras presented a 3 step proposal how to ensure, that healthcare system is truly sustainable: concentration on value based coverage, structural delivery reform and strengthening good governance.
During the discussions, delegates expressed agreement on common understanding of the situation. Member states recognised that although the statistics of EU healthcare systems are good and improving, every state has to understand the importance of issues ahead and work together in order to answer the challenges.