The road to 2020 and sustainable health systems

Eurohealthnet is the European network of organisations, agencies and statutory bodies working on health promotion. On 31 May it organised a debate on ways of ensuring healthy societies and equitable access to health services against a challenging economic backdrop. At the roundtable, John Halloran, ESN Chief Executive, spoke of the relationship between health and social services and focused on prevention, rehabilitation and independent living as areas for joint work.

Fabian Zuleeg from the European Policy Centre noted that access to quality health care is seen by Europeans as being at the heart of social protection systems in a recent pan-European study. However, he argued that there is a rationale behind restructuring health and social protection systems in the current financial climate. “To do this reform we need: to keep people longer in the labour market, lifestyle changes, prevention, health and social care integration, new sources of financing, changes in the social contract (those who can pay have to pay), proof of long-term returns and possible removal of the retirement age.”

The Roundtable was moderated by Clive Needle, Director of Eurohealthnet, who remarked that “health promotion receives only an average of 3% across EU countries and that reorienting health systems towards prevention is beneficial.”

Agis Tsouros, from WHO/EU, argued that “having identified correct values, principles and how health is connected to other sectors, now there is the need to address an inter-sectoral audience to put health and social equity in all levels of government.” Pierre Baussand from the Social Platform linked health to poverty and social exclusion, since poor health and mental wellbeing may be prominent predictors of social exclusion.

ESN's John Halloran referred to the relationship between providers of services and users, and “the need to move from paternalism to cooperation and partnership.” Prevention, rehabilitation and independent living should be the focus of reform in health and social care systems – argued John. He also addressed the need for integrated inter-sectoral approaches not only at the national level, but also “in local communities, since this is the best place for actors to come together and create healthy local communities.”

ESN has previously addressed how local government can play a key role in leadership and coordination between health and social care in our Mental Health Report, which is available on our publications page in different languages.

Further info can be found on Eurohealthnet website.