The informal meeting of the European Health Ministers was held on 22 and 23 September in Milan and was chaired by Minister Beatrice Lorenzin. It addressed the following issues: palliative care and pain therapy, fight against Ebola, innovative drugs and cancer prevention.
Pain therapy. Ministers from the 28 EU member states reached a common position on the need to create a European network ensuring training of professionals in the sector and exchange of information on the effectiveness of therapies for the weakest population groups.
Ebola. During the session on Ebola virus, the seriousness of the epidemic and the need for extraordinary resources to address it were reiterated. Following the decisions of the extraordinary European Council of 30 August, the EU already made resources available, through cooperation and humanitarian aid. EU now intends to intervene with more human and financial resources. In order to optimise response capacity, increased coordination between the EU and the organisations and structures involved – such as UN, transport companies and NGOs - is needed.
Therapeutic innovation. It is crucial to accelerate the development and the immediate access to innovative drugs, while paying attention to patients safety. The drugs prices surge, as in the case of the drugs for hepatitis C, put economic sustainability under strain in all countries. The need for increased cooperation, common strategies and exchange of information in order to improve, speed up and ensure European patients access to innovative drugs was highlighted.
Cancer prevention. Ministers agree on the need for primary and secondary prevention and targeted information campaigns. It has been estimated that around a third of all forms of cancer could be prevented by changing and eliminating risk factors such as smoking, obesity and overweight, inadequate nutrition, excessive use of salt, fat, sugar, alcohol and physical inactivity. In addition, prevention should be intensified through screening and vaccination programmes.