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Roundtable discussion with EU Health Commissioner

HEAL Board member Roberta Savli (right) of the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA), recently participated in a NGO roundtable discussion with the EU Commissioner for Health, within the framework of the 18th European Health Form Gastein (EHFG).

The theme of EHFG 2015, an annual health policy event in the EU, was ‘Securing Health in Europe. Balancing priorities, sharing responsibilities’. With its wide-ranging three-day programme, the Forum offered an unparalleled platform for decision-makers in various fields of public health and health care.

During the roundtable discussion, questions prepared in advance by participating organisations were grouped into three main topics: health in all policies, chronic diseases and prevention and cooperation with civil society. The EU Commissioner for Health Vytenis Andriukaitis (left) gave his views on how to prevent chronic diseases and tackle their burden in Europe and emphasised the need to act on the five main common health determinants (tobacco, alcohol, stress, physical inactivity and nutrition).

Representing HEAL, Roberta underlined the need to remember the most general and common of all, our environment. She mentioned the upcoming UN international climate change conference COP21 and latest data from the Lancet Commission which highlight the public health opportunities from measures to mitigate climate and provides recommendations to achieve co-health benefits from climate action. A second point brought up by HEAL was how the EU Commissioner would respond to concerned voices on glyphosate, categorised by the WHO’s specialist cancer agency as a ‘probable carcinogen’.

The EU Commissioner acknowledged the importance of environmental factors on human health and asked for a common and strong public health voice to mitigate climate health. He then reassured that the EU Commission, through the Directorate-General (DG) for Environment, is working hard on the dossier to ensure a better environment and therefore improved health for European citizens.

Representatives from DG SANTE then mentioned the objective of revamping the EU Health Policy Forum, an interest group bringing together several stakeholders in the field of public health and healthcare, to boost the dialogue between civil society and the institutions around key policy topics. As representatives of healthcare professionals, patients, social insurers and youth and women’s groups interested in health and environment, HEAL and its members will actively participate in the discussions to raise the political profile of environmental health.

You can find the programme of the Forum here

Originally posted on 16 October 2015

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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