Photo: Yordan Simeonov (EU2018BG)
The challenges facing the European Union in the areas of healthy nutrition for children and the effectiveness and accessibility of medicines, as well as possible ways to deal with them, were discussed during an informal meeting of EU health ministers on 23 April 2018 in Sofia. The topic of healthy nutrition for children raised issues relevant to the future of the EU: the necessity of investing in the young generation, the role of the Common Agricultural Policy in achieving the health objectives, and the possibilities of synchronising the objectives of research with the real needs of health policy.
“The EU’s competitiveness and future depend on investing in the young generation. Our children's health must be guaranteed to ensure the success of this investment. Healthy eating and the availability of high quality food are important prerequisites in order for this to happen. In this sense, the environment plays a key role in the success of any prevention policy”,
said the Bulgarian Minister of Health Kiril Ananiev.
The discussions among Ministers highlighted the important role of the environment and the supply of healthy products as a factor for more effective policies for the prevention of chronic diseases. Opportunities to increase the supply of healthy foods, including through a Common Agricultural Policy focused on health objectives, were at the heart of the debates. The importance of responsible producer practices, including in relation to child-directed marketing – one of the most vulnerable consumer groups – was emphasised.
“We have had a productive debate on the future of healthcare at EU level. This topic will find its continuation during the regular Council of Health Ministers on 22 June in Luxembourg. As the Presidency of the Council, we are convinced that the EU needs more visibility on policies that work for the benefit of people. Health policy should be among them”,
Minister Ananiev pointed out.
Another subject of intensive debate was which aspects of the drugs policy EU initiatives should focus on in compliance with the national competences. The participants underlined the need to protect the confidence of patients and regulators in the drugs policy. Ministers also discussed issues related to the effectiveness and accessibility of medicines, including patients' problems caused by parallel drug exports. In this respect, cooperation among Member States is of particular importance.