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Health systems in Europe: vaccine hesitancy a major public health threat

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Health systems in Europe: vaccine hesitancy a major public health threat

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(BRUSSELS) - Vaccine hesitancy is a major public health threat all across Europe, the European Commission finds in reports that depict the profile of health systems in 30 countries, published on Thursday.

The Commission's 'Country Health Profiles' are being issued with a Companion Report that shows some of the biggest trends in the transformation of the healthcare systems and draws key conclusions from the Profiles.

The reports provide in-depth analysis of health systems, looking at the health of the population and important risk factors, as well as the effectiveness, accessibility and resilience of health systems in each EU Member State.

The reports reflect shared objectives across the Member States, and reveal potential areas where the Commission could encourage mutual learning and exchange of good practices.

Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said he was "particularly glad that health promotion and disease prevention are finally getting the attention they need."

He added that he could "clearly see that this robust country-specific and cross-EU knowledge feeds into both national policy-making and EU level cooperation." He hoped that "more Member States will follow up the voluntary- basis discussions on its findings and share best practices."

In addition to vaccine hesitancy, which it says can be tackled by improving health literacy, countering disinformation and actively involving health workers, the Companion Report looking at key trends in the health systems showed that:

  • The digital transformation of health promotion and disease prevention can result in winners and losers. People who would most benefit from mobile health and other such digital tools may be the least likely to have easy access to it.
  • Gaps in health care accessibility are still very much a reality in the EU. Both the clinical needs and socio-economic characteristics of patients need to be accounted for when measuring access to health care and its many barriers.
  • Skill mix innovations among the health workforce show great potential for increasing the resilience of health systems. Promising examples of task shifting among health workers are found across the EU, particularly when it comes to enhancing the role of nurses and pharmacists.
  • The product life cycle of medicines reveals ample scope for Member State cooperation in ensuring safe, effective and affordable therapies, including everything from rational spending to responsible prescribing.

30 Country Health Profiles, Companion Report and more background information

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