Europe lays the foundations to protect the health of its citizens

The coronavirus pandemic has been a global tsunami at all levels, and although the announcement of the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine has sparked optimism, the truth is that experts are constantly calling for caution. Even if we find the vaccine, the entire world has been exposed to invisible threats that not only demonstrate human fragility, but also that of the health systems on which we rely.

That is why acting in a coordinated and collaborative manner is not only the best way out of this crisis, but also to face future cross-border challenges. "Our goal is to protect the health of all European citizens. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for greater coordination in the EU, more resilient health systems and better preparation for future crises. We are changing the way we address cross-border health threats. With these words, the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen began her speech to announce the creation of the European Health Union, a series of proposals aimed at providing all EU countries with more health security and preparing them for future crises.

To this end, it will be essential to improve the response capacity of the main EU agencies, such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), whose work will focus on:

Anticipating crises: preparing national plans for new health crises that will be audited and tested for resistance by the European Commission and EU agencies.

Strengthening surveillance: an integrated and strengthened surveillance system will be created at EU level, using artificial intelligence and other advanced technological means.

Improve data reporting: member countries will have to intensify the communication of the most relevant health system indicators to address the crisis that exists at any given time. For example, people admitted to the ICUs, available health personnel...

Possibility of declaring an emergency situation in the EU: this would generate greater coordination and allow the development, storage and acquisition of products relevant to the crisis.

Reinforce the role of European agencies. In the case of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), it will be provided with systems that improve real-time surveillance, the creation of a network of EU reference laboratories, greater autonomy to mobilize personnel and to formulate health recommendations for each of the affected countries.

In the case of the European Medicines Agency, its role will be strengthened to mitigate the risk of shortages of medicines and essential health materials, it will be given the capacity to coordinate studies to monitor the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, it will be allowed to coordinate clinical trials and it will be provided with scientific advice on medicines that may be able to treat, prevent or diagnose the diseases that cause these crises.

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