Press Release

Martin outlines plans for Health Presidency

EU Presidency Programme in the Health area

The Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin, TD, today (7 January) outlined the programme to be undertaken during the EU Presidency in the health area. Minister Martin highlighted the initiatives which are being undertaken by Ireland as well as setting out what work at EU level will be progressed during the Irish term.

Promotion of cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular Disease causes 4 million deaths each year in Europe and is the main cause of death in women in all European countries. The aim is to reach European agreement on best practice for the population and high risk strategies for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Agreement on the creation of a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

The Centre is a key element in plans to safeguard the health of European Union citizens from the threat of communicable diseases. The Centre would develop epidemiological surveillance at European level

The development of information and communication of technology in health (e-health) to better inform and serve the citizen

Among issues to be progressed are health cards; health portals and telemedicine

Tobacco control

The issue of Tobacco Control under the new European Treaty will be one of the main themes of a major conference in June. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will be reviewed .

The initiatives, identified by the Minister, will play an important part in advancing the EU´s Public Health Framework Programme which has at its core the objectives:-

  • To improve information and knowledge;
  • Responding rapidly to health threats; and
  • Addressing health determinants.

The Minister highlighted the introduction of the European Health Insurance Card during his remarks. “For the citizen perhaps the most immediately visible impact during the Irish Presidency of European solidarity in the health care area will be the introduction on 1 June 2004 of the European Health Insurance Card. This Card will eventually be backed up by electronic administrative systems and will replace initially the E111, and subsequently other paper based forms such as the E112 and E128. This card represents a further step towards making movement within EU Member States easier for citizens.”

The growth of the importance of health in the European political agenda is widely acknowledged. EU co-operation in health matters -at political, policy making and expert levels – is now an every-day occurrence and this is an evolution which Ireland supports and which we routinely work to enhance and facilitate.

The health agenda is perhaps one of the most dynamic at EU level, requiring flexibility to deal with changing demographics, emerging health threats, advances in technology and treatments, resource pressures and heightened expectations on the part of citizens.

“Looking at the calendar of events which are planned an overall objective is to enrich our shared knowledge and experience in the protection and improvement of public health, together with mapping out the course of how we best address future needs. It ranges across regulatory measures in areas such as food, through serious health threats such as tobacco, to the orientation of health systems in relation to greater patient mobility.” continued the Minister before concluding by saying, “Finally; the Presidency offers a special opportunity to demonstrate our commitment and determination to advancing public health throughout the Union. Irish based Presidency meetings and events will involve an estimated 3,000 plus delegate attendances. I believe that we have developed a very focused Presidency programme which will allow us to give practical expression to this commitment. I look forward to working with you over the coming months to communicate the good things that we as Irish Europeans are doing for the health of our own country and the wider body of European citizens.”

During his commentary the Minister paid compliment to the various Agencies who are working with his Department on the Health Presidency programme including: HeBE, the Southern Health Board, the Office of Tobacco Control, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the European Society of Cardiology, the Irish Medicines Board, the Office of Public Works, Aer Rianta and An Garda Siochana as well as a number of Non-Governmental Organisations.