European Public Health Policy and UEMO
The European Unions’s (EU) current activities and policies in the field of public health are based upon the Programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008), which was adopted by the European Parliament and Council on 23 September 2002.
The legal basis of the public health programme is Article 152 of the Treaty establishing the European Community. The aim of the programme is to embody an integrated approach towards protecting and improving health, to tackle health inequalities and to encourage cooperation between Member States in the areas covered by Article 152 of the Treaty.
The current programme (2003- 2008) has three main objectives:
* To improve information and knowledge for the development of public health
* To enhance the capability of responding rapidly and in a coordinated fashion to threats to health
* To promote health and prevent disease through addressing health determinants across all policies and activities.
As part of the integrated approach, particular attention is paid to the creation of links with other Community programmes and actions.
Community health strategy
Building on the current Programme, on 6 April 2005 the Commission adopted a Health and Consumer protection Strategy and a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision creating the Community Programme for Health and Consumer protection 2007-2013.
Recent EU activities in the field of public health are the creation of the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control, the launch of the Help – for a life without tobacco campaign, the launch of the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, and the publication of the first set of ECHI-data (European Community Health Indicators) project on the website.
Moreover, collaboration with other policy areas has been strengthened. Joint approaches have been developed for examples on health and the environment (e.g. the Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010), health and social policy (e.g. health and safety at work, tackling health inequalities, health telematics (e.g. eEuropean Action Plan), research on life sciences and health policy or health and pharmaceuticals policy.
General Practitioners and public health, a field of interest for UEMO
Following the WONCA Europe definitions the characteristics of the discipline and specialty of general practice/family medicine are that it:
a) is normally the point of first medical contact within the health care system, providing open and unlimited access to its users, dealing with all health problems regardless of the age, sex, or any other characteristic of the person concerned.
b) makes efficient use of health care resources through co-ordinating care, working with other professionals in the primary care setting, and by managing the interface with other specialities taking an advocacy role for the patient when needed.
c) develops a person-centred approach, orientated to the individual, his/her family, and their community.
d) has a unique consultation process, which establishes a relationship over time, through effective communication between doctor and patient.
e) is responsible for the provision of longitudinal continuity of care as determined by the needs of the patient.
f) has a specific decision making process determined by the prevalence and incidence of illness in the community.
g) manages simultaneously both acute and chronic health problems of individual patients.
h) manages illness which presents in an undifferentiated way at an early stage in its development, and which may require urgent intervention.
i) promotes health and well being both by appropriate and effective intervention.
j) has a specific responsibility for the health of the community.
k) deals with health problems in their physical, psychological, social, cultural and existential dimensions.
According to these characteristics of the profession general practitioners are the most important partners for any public health programme in the EU. If the profession does not give its support the actions could be invalidated in many respects. It should therefore be in the greatest interest of the European Commission to win the support of, and the cooperation with the European general practitioners.
UEMO acts for the interests of the European general practitioners at EU level. In addition UEMO seeks cooperation with EU organisations particularly in appropriate public health programmes. Above all preventive activities deserve support. Such as activities in the field of:
-Health maintenance and health improvement
-Assuring patient safety
-Prevention of diseases
-Prevention of social problems including violence and all forms of abuse
-Improvement of information, knowledge and education in an integrated approach linking all important “players” in public health
-Ensure universal access to health care particularly for those who are socio-economically disadvantaged and carry the greatest burden of ill-health.