The role of data in building the European Health Union

The EU4Health programme, with a budget of €5.1 billion, in the present multiannual financial framework, can be considered a drop of water in the universe of European funds. However, it carries within itself a huge ambition, which has become more viable in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic: the construction of a true European Health Union.

At stake is a joint effort to respond to challenges that are common to all Member States. Not just in times of crisis, like the one triggered by the coronavirus, but to deal with problems that affect tens of millions of Europeans. In particular, rare diseases, oncological diseases, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, among others.

The construction of this European Health Union will imply a much more decisive commitment than the one that is embodied in EU4Health, covering strong investments and coordination in areas such as infrastructure, scientific research and innovation and investment in strengthening the qualifications of citizens, from training more specialists to strengthen the health literacy of the entire population, with special attention to patients and their families.

This last aspect is particularly important because our hopes of developing more intensive cooperation will be unrealizable without the development of a European Health Data Area, the implementation of which cannot leave anyone behind.

The creation of a European Data Area, covering the health sector, is one of the priorities of the European Commission for this legislature. Its implementation will serve two fundamental purposes. On the one hand, directly support the provision of health care. On the other hand, to contribute to scientific research and the elaboration of public policies in this sector. Both could lead us to significant gains in efficiency, not only in the responses given to patients, but also in the return on investments made in this sector.

When we refer to the sharing of health data, we are referring to electronic health records, genomic data, data referring to clinical records of patients, and others that can contribute to a better understanding of the health problems that affect Europeans and to find the best solutions. answers. We must guarantee the anonymity of all citizens whose information is collected. This is an absolutely fundamental aspect, in which we are obliged to be rigorous. However, no one will deny the potential of digital in the healthcare sector.

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