Hungarian Health Minister on EU Presidency health priorities

6 October 2010

Hungarian Minister of State for Health, Dr. Miklós Szócska, spoke about his country's health policy priorities for their upcoming EU presidency at the opening plenary of the 2010 European Health Forum Gastein. Hungary will take over the rotating EU Presidency role from Belgium in January 2011. The key phrase for this presidency's health policy will be "patient and professional pathways in Europe" which emphasizes the need to focus policy on both individuals and processes, and in particular on the needs of those communities to which the health system is most important - those who use it, and those who make it possible.


This inititive addresses two crucial issues: investing in future health systems that are relevant to the changes in the European population and their health challenges; and addressing the trade-off between equity and the freedom of mobility that is at the crux of the human resources for healthcare crisis. The presidency intends to kick-off discussions on how to make progress on the policies which are already in play on these issues, as well as what changes are necessary to ensure the right investments are made in health system efficiency and preventative care.

While new investments are needed, Minister Szócska also spoke about the financial crisis and global recession, in which Hungary was particularly hard hit. The lasting impact of these global events will be felt for years to come and to varied extent between countries. At such a time it is crucial to understand how this is impacting solidarity across the EU. The financial crisis cannot be an excuse for a waning in solidarity in European health systems, and for this reason the Hungarian presidency will continue the initiative on solidarity and innovation started under the Belgian presidency.

Minister Szócska ended his speech by referencing two emerging issues that merit much more attention from in policy discussions. The first is the use of structural funds for health system infrastructure - a practice where Hungary has experiences to inform other EU member states. And second the issue of migration and vaccine standardization - with increasingly mobile populations it is becoming more and more important to ensure that EU Member State childhood vaccine policies are aligned.



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