On 29 November, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament organised a workshop on ”Health Promotion and Primary Prevention”. The workshop was chaired by MEP Alojz Peterle (EPP, SL).
The first session focused on the state of primary prevention and health promotion in Europe. The floor was given to participants from NGOs. Dr. Aldo Lupo represented the European Union of General Practitioners/Family Physicians (UEMO). Dr. Lupo informed the participants that structured clusters do not exist in all of the Member States. He added that where structured clusters exist, it is easier to share guidelines. On the issue of registered lists, Dr. Lupo emphasised that in cases there is a registered list proactive interventions are ethically justified since patients share a close relationship with their doctor. Dr. Lupo added that changing the behaviour is the most difficult thing. He further underlined that the focus should be on primary prevention were the barriers in the implementation of the advice and guidelines are less.
Other participants included EurohealthNet, Schools for Health in Europe Network-SHE, European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA). Mr Clive Needle from EurohealthNet emphasised the added value of CHRODIS in empowering patients to take care of their own health. Ms. Roberta Savli (EFA) underlined that EFA’s working group on patients’ education study shows results on poor adherence to treatment. Mr. Goof Buijs (Schools for Health in Europe Network-SHE) commented on the role of schools in disease prevention. He underlined extracurricular school activities assist the school performance in order to avoid non-communicable diseases. He informed the participants that SHE is currently running an EU funded project in order to create a tool that coordinates school on health education.
The second session focused on good practices. Mr. Artur Furtado (DG SANTE) mentioned that Health Prevention is very important. He underlined that the European Commission is working actively with the OECD on improving country knowledge on economies of prevention. Moreover, he urged the European Parliament to modify the Audio-visual regulation in order to decrease the marketing appeal of unhealthy products.
The floor then was given to industry representatives as well as representatives of the trade unions. Ms. Jessica Carreno Louro (International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies-AIM) emphasised that AIM can contribute to health promotion and disease prevention due its relationship of trust between the Members and its wide network of contact with General Practitioners. She further mentioned that AIM provides a forum for data-sharing between members in a patient-friendly environment. She concluded that AIM brings the insurance institutions to the debate.
Mr. De Boer (European Association of Crafts, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) delivered the point of view of the industry on the topic. He added that the tools need to be tailored since prevention and risk assessment have a cost. The last presentation was delivered by Mr. Dimitris Theodorakis (Uni Europa) that represented the trade unions. He presented the case of the hairdressing sector since Uni Europa has organised a campaign on changing the European Framework Agreement also known as ‘REMIT’. He added that ETUC, Uni Europa and Coiffure EU have sent an open letter to the EU Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The framework agreement if adopted by the EU Institutions, can improve health and safety for over one million workers.
MEP Peterle delivered the closing speech. He concluded that in order to empower the patients we need to motivate them to work with themselves and with the decision-makers.