If you think about the biggest challenges to public health, you could look at antimicrobial resistance, ageing population or unhealthy lifestyles separately. But please keep in mind the interrelation between all those issues.
Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis
On 15 March Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis visited the House of Europe in Stockholm, Sweden, for a Citizen's Dialogue on health and food safety. Over 90 citizens attended the 90-minute Dialogue with an impressive range of attendees from all sectors of society. Members of Parliament, business leaders, interest group leaders, civil servants, government agency workers, embassy representatives, several journalists as well as private citizens were all present.
After a brief introduction, the Commissioner elaborated on topics such as vaccination hesitancy, measles, AMR, the effects of climate change on health, alcohol and tobacco as risk factors as well as the challenges of preventing and not just treating the symptoms, before answering a number of in-depth questions from the public.
In an answer to a question about whether or not health is something to be regulated at the EU or national-level, the Commissioner answered: “What does health mean? Health is state of mental, social and physical wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. […] And when we are speaking about healthcare and cure and medical services, you are right, they are in hands of national authorities.
But when we are speaking about health, we are speaking about wellbeing criteria, we are speaking about public health concerns. ”, said the Commissioner, highlighting that issues such as healthy food and lifestyle and climate change are better addressed at a supranational level. ”This means that health should be high on the agenda ahead of the European elections,” he insisted.
During the debate all participants made their voices heard through two Sli.do questions which everyone voted on with their mobiles.
These questions were used by the moderator and Commissioner Andriukaitis as starting points for further discussion.
The first Sli.do question was "which of the following is the greatest public health challenge for Europe?", with the answers "antimicrobial resistance" (37%) and "climate change" (30%) coming first, followed closely by "unhealthy lifestyles".
On the question "which of these risk factors should be treated as a priority at EU level?" the most popular answer was "alcohol" followed by "tobacco".