Magazine article European Social Policy

Health Care : Fresh Plea to Go Easy on Budget Cuts

Magazine article European Social Policy

Health Care : Fresh Plea to Go Easy on Budget Cuts

Article excerpt

The member states' governments must make the most of the debt crisis to improve the effectiveness of their health care systems, among others by refraining from ill-considered budget cuts. This is the message that was voiced, on 6 June, by the vast majority of the participants in a conference on the theme of public health and the crisis, which was co-organised by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Commissioner John Dalli, in charge of the dossier, and the Regional Director of World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, also pushed this message. Dalli said that health care was a long-term investment and that "the health care sector is a key job creator and a driver of innovation and technology. This is why cutting back on health care delivery is invariably a false economy, triggering worsening outcomes in the longer term". Jakab added that the WHO was not opposed to budget cuts but that cuts should be considered and concentrated on areas where work is being doubled-up. Jakab therefore invites the member states to avoid useless budget cuts; to better target public spending on poor and vulnerable people; to improve effectiveness by using medicines and technology more intelligently and to rationalise service provision structures; and, lastly, to anticipate financial difficulties.

According to an investigation conducted by the EPHA, the crisis has led to a decrease in budgets dedicated to health care, a decrease in the number of hospitals, as well as a decrease in the number of services and of health care professionals. …

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