EU4Health is the EU’s ambitious response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a major impact on medical and healthcare personnel, patients and health systems in Europe. The new EU4Health program will go beyond crisis response to address the resilience of European health systems.

The program, established by Regulation (EU) 2021/522, will provide funding to eligible entities, health organizations and NGOs from the EU or third countries associated with the program.

With the EU4Health initiative, the EU will invest € 5.3 billion complementing member countries’ policies and pursuing the general objectives set up by the program:

  • improving and promoting health in the European Union;
  • addressing major cross border health threats;
  • improving medicines, medical devices and relevant products in the event of a crisis, making them available and affordable;
  • enhancing health systems, their resilience and the efficient use of resources.

The EU4Health initiative will pave the way for a European health union by investing in the most pressing health priorities:

  • responding to the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening the EU’s resilience to cross-border health threats;
  • the European plan to fight cancer;
  • the pharmaceutical strategy for Europe;
  • advocating the prudent and efficient use of antimicrobials as well as promoting medical and pharmaceutical innovation and greener manufacturing.

The program will also intensify the action in other areas, such as digitizing health systems, reducing the number of antimicrobial-resistant infections and increasing vaccination rates.

The EU will expand successful initiatives, such as European Reference Networks for Rare Diseases and continue to pursue international cooperation to address global health challenges and threats.

To implement the EU4Health strategy, the participation of numerous stakeholders is required:

  • EU countries are consulted on the program’s priorities and strategic orientations and collaborate with the Commission within the EU4Health Steering Group to ensure coherence and complementarity with national health policies. They give their opinion in the EU Health Program Committee prior to the adoption of the annual work programs;
  • stakeholders, including representatives of civil society and patient associations, academia and health care organizations, provide input on priorities and strategic orientations and needs to be addressed through the annual work program;
  • the European Parliament is kept informed of the progress of the preparatory work and awareness-raising activities with stakeholders;
  • the European Commission prepares, adopts and implements the annual work programs, monitors and reports on the progress made in achieving the program objectives. It can also consult the competent decentralized agencies and independent experts in the health sector on technical or scientific issues relevant to the implementation of the program;
  • the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA) will implement the program.

Healthcare challenges are, by nature, cross-sectoral. EU4Health collaborates with other Union programs, policies, instruments and actions, including the Erasmus + program to which our SAFETY project belongs. Our consortium believes that a Europe where all people are as healthy as they can be throughout their lives is possible. A Europe that promotes well-being for all people of all ages, and where people can live, work and age in sustainable and healthy environments. A Europe that supports timely access to affordable, high-quality healthcare for all.

Written by G. Pasta, A. Guadagni and U. Pascucci from ValueDo (Florence, Italy)