The common thread of the informal meeting of health ministers, to be held on 12 October 2021, will be building a resilient health union. The ministers will also take note of the European Commission's report on the pandemic situation and the aspects of vaccination.
Minister Poklukar said, "Leading the debate on building a resilient health union is one of the priorities for the Slovenian Presidency. The pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of our health systems. Countries need to strengthen their cooperation to increase the accessibility and deliverability of medicines. More advanced solutions for resilient health systems must be introduced. The discussion will contribute to the preparation of the Council Conclusions to be confirmed by the ministers at the meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in December."
Minister of Health Janez Poklukar
During the discussion on the accessibility and deliverability of medicines, the ministers will address the problem of smaller member states, whose size makes access to medicines more difficult compared to larger member states. Slovenia will advocate closer cooperation between member states and the EU's independence from third-country markets.
To make health systems more efficient and be better prepared for any future pandemics, more targeted strategic investments need to be made. This also requires good management. The Slovenian Presidency will present methods for improving the drawing of funds for investments in health and identifying good practices that could be introduced into the member states' systems.
The pandemic revealed the weak points in health systems, the lack of medicines and healthcare staff, and particularly affected the already vulnerable groups. It also revealed the need for a faster and more unified EU response. However, it also uncovered opportunities for closer cooperation. Therefore, it is essential to build a resilient health union that is able to better respond to any health threats.
Another important topic of the meeting will be the current state of the COVID-19 epidemic and related aspects of vaccination, which will be presented by the European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. In this context, the following will be addressed: citizens' reluctance to vaccinate against COVID-19, the third, booster dose, and vaccine donations outside the European Union.
The meeting will take place virtually. However, the health ministers of the current trio of presidencies of the Council of the European Union, namely Germany and Portugal, and of the future trio of presidencies of the Council of the EU, i.e. France, Czechia and Sweden, have been invited to attend it in person. Invitations have also been extended to the European Commissioner Kyriakides and WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans P. Kluge, while the directors of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will participate remotely.