09 Dec 2009
The European Commission launced a public consultation iin October 2009 on stakeholder views regarding the rationale, scope and strategic objectives for an EU role in global health. Access the EU Commission issues paper ‘The EU role in global health’ for background information. Below is the IPH response to this consultation.
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) aims to improve health on the island of Ireland by working to combat health inequalities and influence public policies in favour of health. The Institute promotes cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in public health research, training and policy advice. IPH also contributes to a number of European networks and projects and is a member of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI).
IPH welcomes the opportunity to respond to the European Commission consultation on the role of the EU in global health.
• The EU should promote a greater recognition of the rising burden of non-communicable disease in developing countries and of the need for effective preventive action and appropriate resources to be allocated to address these causes of ill-health
• The EU can play a key role in continuing to highlight and urge action to combat the unequal and unfair distribution of ill-health and premature death between countries and regions
• The EU should provide leadership in demonstrating that the most effective, sustainable and economical way to address ill-health and health inequalities is through action on the social and environmental determinants of health, in line with the report of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health
• The EU has a key role to play in developing strategies to mitigate the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change on health and health inequalities
• The EU can draw on its experience of collaborating across borders and networks on a range of issues related to health and its determinants.
Recognise the rise in non-communicable disease
Heavily influenced by the Millennium Development Goals, the bulk of international assistance in health spending is devoted to addressing diseases such as AIDS, TB and malaria. Notwithstanding the critical importance of continuing to address these and other forms of communicable disease, there needs to be much greater recognition of the rise in non-communicable disease in developing countries. IPH recognises and welcomes EU support in critical areas such as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control but advocates a stronger role for the EU in safeguarding the nutritional quality of food.
Highlight health inequalities
While health inequalities exist between and within countries in the EU, the most staggering differences in life expectancy are seen at the global level. IPH believes that the wealth of experience within the EU on action to combat such inequalities should be shared.
Action on the social and environmental determinants of health
The impact of social and environmental conditions on health is well recognised internationally. The EU can draw on its legislative, regulatory and advocacy experience in demonstrating strategies which support effective action. For example, the EU has extensive experience in assessment procedures such as Health Impact Assessment which help other sectors to recognise the potential impacts of their work on health. The EU and some of its member states are also leading the way in demonstrating the cost effectiveness of action on the determinants of health. IPH considers that work in this area has the potential to be explored and interpreted in a broader setting.
Develop strategies to address adverse health outcomes of climate change
The geographical and socioeconomic inequalities in vulnerability to adverse effects of climate change have been well documented. IPH strongly advocate for leadership by the EU in developing mitigation and adaptation strategies that recognise and address impacts on vulnerable groups.
Promote collaboration and networks for better health
As well as drawing on its own experience of collaboration across borders, IPH suggests that the EU can support the work of international health networks such as IANPHI, the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) and the Global Health Equity Group (GHEG).