Pooling health resources on Belgian-French border

Cooperation between Walloon, Flemish and French regions lies at the heart of this project, with patients living along the border gaining unrestricted access to the nearest health care institution, including emergency services, irrespective of the country it is located in.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

In addition to the benefit of receiving treatment, the project is helping reduce public spending on health care for both countries by simplifying and harmonising procedures and pooling health care resources.

Smart planning progresses

The border zone covered by this project has a proven track record of successful cooperation. Back in 1992, cooperation began on a smaller scale with just one project between two hospitals on the Belgian-French border. Today’s programme covers an area of more than 60 000 km2 and a population of some 10.5 million residents. By pooling together resources and complementing each other’s medical capacities, financial savings can be made. Similarly, mutual insurance companies offer unrestricted coverage, providing added reassurance to patients.

Since the three main initiatives were launched under the project (COSANTRAN, COSANWALFRAN and COSANVLAAMSFRAN), much progress has already been made. Five specific cross-border zones for access to healthcare have been formed (based on what was available in the areas and the needs of the local populations), cross-border emergency services are now provided, and advances have been made in oncological care and urological cooperation between Mons hospital (CHR) in Belgium and Maubeuge hospital (CH) in France. For example, every week, 1 oncologist and 3 urologists from Mons hold consultations and operate together with their French counterparts.

Comprehensive care for all

Information and communication through meetings with service providers and patients, combined with brochures on applying health conventions, helps ensure that professionals and residents are aware of the care available. Efforts are also focused on the legal framework as regards patient mobility (legislation, case law, etc.) and on promoting a cross-border health policy based on hospital care, outpatient care, mental health, and care for the elderly and handicapped, ensuring the inclusion of all members of society.

Projects such as this are producing real results and playing a central role in helping the EU achieve the goals set out in the Europe 2020 growth strategy. Conscious of the rapidly changing world it lives in, the EU is looking to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy, with ambitious targets covering employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy.

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