To come up with "out of the box" ideas on future public health policies, 60 young professionals met in Brussels for the 5th European Health Parliament.
The European Health Parliament (EHP) is a partnership initiative comprising six entities: EU40, Johnson&Johnson, the European Patients’ Forum (EPF), the College of Europe, Porter Novelli, and the European Affairs Recruitment Specialists (EARS).
This initiative, led by 6 private and public partners, wants to boost dialogue with academics, business and EU institutions.
"I am here to engage with young professionals in healthcare from diverse backgrounds for better healthcare in the future," said one female contributor.
Another participant said he was there learn about the role of the European institutions in health and to learn about the interactions with the member states"
The themes for the meeting fell under the heading of cancer, innovation, interconnected care, healthy lifestyles, mental health and a healthy workforce.
Cancer treatment a priority
Almost two million EU citizens died of cancer in 2018 and experts estimate that that figure could double by 2035.
The new European Commission will create the "Beating Cancer Programme" to address the inequalities between member states when it comes to treatment, which is often expensive.
"Life expectancy in some countries is eight years higher than average life expectancy in lowest income EU's member states," explained Willy Palm, Senior Adviser at the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. "So, how can we narrow this gap and how can we give equal opportunities and chances for cancer patients to be treated in the right way?"
Technology the way forward
More investment in so-called electronic health is crucial for better research of diagnostic tools and treatment. It can also provide better care for patients living in remote areas.
But digital technology has risks in terms of data collection, so the European Parliament wants to strike the right balance.
"We have the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that is very stringent legislation on data protection, which I think shows that the European Union puts very high standards of protection of personal data," said Croatian MEP Tomislav Sokol. "The EU has the instruments and can do a lot, but of course, I think we need a balance to achieve the best possible care for the patients"
The young professionals are planning further meetings and intend to present their final recommendations to the European Parliament in June 2020.