Since January 2018 I am working for EUREGHA – European Regional and local health authorities– a Brussels-based association representing the interest at EU level of 15 regions coming from 10 countries across Europe.
This vibrant network made me positively discover how local and regional health authorities are becoming more and more interested and engaged in EU health policy, legislation and funding. Many regions are realising that the health of their citizens and system is determined by policies created at the EU level. This means that the work of the European institutions is not only relevant to them but can also complement their own local and regional efforts.
The importance of local and regional authorities is central in the European debate on health, as they represent the natural interface between citizens, national and European institutions. They exert a pivotal role in improving the efficiency and quality of healthcare systems and services. Healthcare services are now facing unprecedented challenges that should push all the competent public administrations in rethinking and assessing policy options in more depth to ensure effective, accessible and resilient health systems.
From a public administration perspective, the questions are: what are the risks and benefits of the various innovative approaches? Which areas are the most efficient? How can sustainability be ensured? In EUREGHA, we believe that the response must be based on cross-sectoral collaboration, integrated approaches, and innovative methods to mainstream health in all policies.
Against this background, EUREGHA launched last year the campaign “Health in all Regions” where we clearly stated our recipe for the “Future of Health in the EU”. First, there is a need to create a new strategic partnership between the EU and regional and local authorities. Without the concordance of the correct competent authorities (very often sub-national authorities), the danger is that generic solutions will be applied in situations (towards end-users, communities, vulnerable/’hard-to-reach groups’) where a specific understanding of the context is required. Therefore, it is essential that the appropriate competent authorities are involved, as much as feasible, to ensure effective and targeted implementation. Nonetheless, without the positive dialogue and cooperation among the stakeholders from the civil society, academia and the industry it would be difficult to foster innovation and to rethink the whole health system. Reinforcing the multi-stakeholder partnerships, where appropriate and where additional value can be found, is thus the second fundamental step to undertake to ensure “Health in all regions”. Value-Based healthcare, integrated care, eHealth, health promotion and prevention, health equity and investment in border regions are the areas in which EUREGHA’s members are investing more.
Within this framework, it doesn’t come as a surprise that EUREGHA is very pleased to cooperate with MedTech Europe on what we consider a crucial H2020 project: EURIPHI, European wide Innovation Procurement in Health and Care. The project aims at introducing innovation and integrated care solutions in Europe’s health and social care systems through cross-border Value-Based innovation procurement. EURIPHI is for EUREGHA an important tool to reinforce the dialogue and the mutual understanding with the medical devices industry, while working together to boost innovation across Europe. Seeds of public-private positive dialogue have been planted since our campaign was launched and we will not lose this momentum, for the sake of our citizens and for the ambitious to ensure “Health in all Regions”.