Source: European Court of Auditors
EU-wide planning to protect citizens from serious health threats such as pandemic influenza suffers from significant weaknesses, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. Although a number of important steps have been taken in recent years, Member States and their public health authorities still need to work together better, say the auditors.
EU Member States have the principal responsibility in the area of public health. The European Commission’s role consists mainly of providing support and taking complementary action. The EU has identified serious cross-border threats to health as an area where Member States can act more effectively together. The EU Decision on serious cross-border threats to health in 2013 introduced important changes to advance planning and response coordination. It also strengthened the Health Security Committee set up informally by the Council of Health Ministers in 2001.
The auditors concluded that although the 2013 Decision was an important step to improve the EU’s health security framework and better prepare the EU to deal with serious threats to health, significant weaknesses at Member State and Commission level remain. They also concluded that although the Health Security Committee has proved to be very important, it faces strategic and operational challenges that need to be resolved.
“Increased travel and trade allow diseases to spread rapidly across borders, which means health security in one Member State often depends on that of its neighbours,” said Janusz Wojciechowski, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “More needs to be done to address these weaknesses in planning and coordination if EU citizens are to benefit fully from what has been set up so far.”
Read the report here