Podcast: European Health Union Now!

This series of podcasts in the scope of the European Health Union (EHU) Initiative will discuss current political events and developments through the lens of the ideas and aims behind the EHU Initiative.

#9 An inside look at the European Parliament’s new SANT subcommittee

25 April, 2023

In February 2023, the European Parliament approved the creation of a new permanent subcommittee for public health matters, SANT. The subcommittee, established under the umbrella of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), comprises of 30 members and will deal with programmes and specific actions in the field of public health, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, health aspects of bioterrorism, the European Medicines Agency, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Dorli-Kahr Gottlieb, Secretary General of the EHFG and one of the initiators behind the European Health Union Initiative (EHUI), sits down with MEP Sara Cerdas in this episode to lean more about SANT and it’s priority topics.

#8 Political Determinants of Health

22 November, 2022

Within the discipline of public health, it is commonly understood that health outcomes are influenced by more than genetics and behaviour. Many health problems can be linked to a political determinant that created and is perpetuating health inequities across Europe. There is trouble, as we experienced during the pandemic, when politics suppresses professional rationalities. The completion of the European Health Union requires a series of national and EU decisions, and there is concern that the process started in 2020 has slowed down. In this episode of the “European Health Union – Now!” podcast, Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb speaks with MEP István Ujhelyi and Mihály Kökény, Former Minister for Health of Hungary, both of whom are champions of the European Health Union initiative.

#7 A European Health Literate Union

August, 2022

The field of health literacy has seen increased attention over the past decade with the number of networks and institutions working in this area growing. Yet, a significant number of the European population reports below optimal levels of health literacy, with large discrepancies between countries.What do we know about the value of health literacy? And how can we achieve higher degrees of health literacy in the population? In this episode of the ‘European Health Union Now!’ podcast, Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb speaks with Kristine Sørensen, Founder of the Global Health Literacy Academy, President of the International Health Literacy Association, and a European Health Union initiative champion.

#6 Towards a European Health Union: A conversation with Vytenis Andriukaitis

February, 2022

In her September 2020 State of the Union address, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for a European Health Union as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.Welcoming the Commission’s proposal, a Manifesto was drafted by the European Health Union initiative, which proposes a more ambitious model of a European Health Union and calls on the political leaders of Europe to commit to creating a solidaric, equitable and people-centred European Health Union.To delve further into the initiative and its goals, episode six of the ‘European Health Union Now’ podcast sees host Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb speak with one of the lead initiators of the group, Vytenis Andriukaitis.Vytenis is a former Minister of Health of Lithuania, and he was European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety between 2014 and 2019. Vytenis is WHO Special Envoy for the European region.

#5 A Stronger Europe for Rare Diseases

December, 2021

The fifth episode of the “European Health Union – Now!” podcast series looks at the situation of rare disease patients in Europe, what it means to live on the wrong side of the border, why orphan drugs are a different kind of animal, and what collaborative partnerships are needed to improve the situation of patients.Just a few facts and figures to paint a picture of the current situation: · There are around 30 million rare disease patients in Europe. · 50% of them are children · 30% don’t live till their 5th birthday · 95% of rare disease patients are without a treatment option altogether.The development of orphan drugs is a financially risky and not very lucrative business for pharma companies. While a lot needs to be invested into research and development, 48% of orphan medicinal products (OMPs) in the EU have a revenue of less than 10 million Euros. On the other hand, also payers face difficult decisions on reimbursing often very expensive orphan therapies for a small patient population. Though the situation for patients has clearly improved since new European legislation was introduced in the year 2000 (the number of authorised OMPs has risen from 8 to 182), I think there is a consensus in the community that new models are needed for the treatment of rare disease patients, and the current OMP regulation review represents an opportunity to bridge at least some of these gaps.In this episode Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb, Secretary General of the European Health Forum Gastein and co-initiator of the European Health Union initiative, speaks about this and much more with our guest , Dimitrios Athanasiou. Dimitrios has more than 25 years’ experience with international business projects, and has worked in various countries in consulting, developing and reorganising companies. When his son was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an incurable rare disease, he became a passionate international patient expert and advocate for Duchenne and Rare Diseases. Dimitrios is a board member of the World Duchenne Organization (WDO) and the European Patients’ Forum, and he represents EURORDIS as a Pediatric Committee member in the European Medicines Agency. In these roles, Dimitrios promotes the rights of patients with rare diseases to have access to the best care possible and to new, safe and affordable drugs.

#4 Do we need a Treaty change for a true European Health Union?

June, 2021

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union (EU) has often been criticised for not having reacted strongly enough and for not having taken more leadership in coordinating the response. On the other hand, the pioneering efforts around the negotiations and the purchasing of the COVID-19 vaccines have showcased that coordinated action of all EU Member States is not only possible but necessary in times of a pandemic. Yet, the EU is limited in what it can do regarding health under the current Treaty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly revealed the weaknesses in the division of powers and competences between the EU and its Member States. In this episode, European Health Union (EHU) initiators Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb and Anniek de Ruijter discuss the recently published position paper, by EHU initiative members, calling for a Treaty change in order to fully reach a EHU.

#3 A European Health Union for the people – civil society at the heart of Europe’s future

June, 2021

Civil society has played a crucial role in advocating for better health in the EU during the COVID-19 crisis – but had already done that before. As we are moving towards a European Health Union (EHU) that works for all Europeans, strong partnerships and collaboration with civil society organisations are needed. Civil society organisations can play a fundamental role in bridging the gap between the EU and its citizens, thereby helping to make the EHU a truly transformative European effort. How can we strengthen the involvement of civil society in European policymaking processes? How can we ensure working in partnership across borders and sectors not only in preparation for the next pandemic, but for the future of health in Europe in general, becomes the new normal? In this podcast, Dorli Kahr-Gottlieb, Secretary General of the European Health Forum Gastein and a EHU initiator sits down with Milka Sokolovic, Director-General of the European Public Health Alliance, to discuss these topics.

#2 Facing tomorrow’s health threats: a strong ECDC for a resilient Europe

May, 2021

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening Europe’s resilience against current and future health threats has become a hot item on political agendas, as well as an essential concern for citizens. Under the leadership of Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, in November 2020 the European Commission took first steps in the scope of a ‘European Health Union’ legislative package, intended to unify and improve European responses to cross-border threats. Chief among the proposed measures, which are currently under negotiation in the European Council and Parliament, is an extension of the mandate for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). But what exactly would this new mandate entail? How could it protect Europeans? And how does this proposal fit in with larger, more ambitious visions of European cohesion on health? In this podcast, Dorli-Kahr Gottlieb, Secretary General of the EHFG and one of the initiators behind the European Health Union Initiative (EHUI), sits down with ECDC Director Andrea Ammon to find out.

#1 Vaccine nationalism – where is the solidarity now?

February 2021

Europe seems to have forgotten that nobody is safe until everyone is safe. Does the current era of vaccine nationalism and its concomitant failure to demonstrate solidarity put a European Health Union at risk?