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Conference to gather proposals on expansive EU health policy

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 20.9.2006 7.15
Press release -

Under its Establishing Treaty the EU is authorised to uphold a high level of health protection in all the Union’s policy sectors. The Kuopio conference will deal with the ways by which Europe can in excelling in health policies be a forerunner of differing sectoral policies. The two-day Health in All Policies conference opens 20 September in the Kuopio. It is the main event of the Finnish EU Presidency concerning the health sector.

The main issue of the conference is to present practically how significant is role of healthcare in other sectors in maintaining, promoting and preserving health. There are examples from Finland of the role of non-health sectors in work to reduce cardiovascular diseases. The impacts of decisions taken in other sectors need to be evaluated more extensively and credibly than they are at present both in the EU and in Finland.

Health is built up in people’s everyday life and it is not only the health sector that regulates it. Transport and community planning, agricultural policy and taxation policy all have a role. Health impacts are part of environmental impact assessments (EIA, SEA, land use and construction legislation), which are statutory processes. They are limited in that they only focus on certain activities defined legally, such as land use, regional planning, the creation of waste disposal sites and transport policies. The health perspective is often narrow and emphasises minimising risks, while measures to promote health are excluded. For instance, the health impacts of walking and cycling should be better integrated into transport planning. The EU could report regularly on the main horizontal policies, which are in the Lisbon Strategy, from the point of view of health impacts.

Proposals will be worked out at the conference to respond to non-health sector issues that impact the make up of health situations. These cover community planning, health inequalities, balancing diet and physical activity, alcohol-related harm, and mental health. Each of these issues will be dealt with in working groups comprising high-level decision-makers and experts from across the EU.

The working groups will present their recommendations to the conference. They will also be presented at the conference during the Finnish Presidency of EU health ministers in Brussels, 30 November, concerning the member states’ development of a broad-based health policy. Health policy across sectors has long been the basis of Finnish activity in different discussions with representatives of various member states. During Finland’s first EU Presidency, in 1999, the Council’s decisions were adopted on high level health protection in all policies.

Further information:

Conference issues
Ministerial Counsellor Eero Lahtinen, Ministry of Social Affairs and health, cell 050 363 2986
Senior Research Officer Timo Ståhl, STAKES, cell 040 825 1753

Press information and contacts
Information Officer Heini Utunen GSM 050 597 0931

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