As Europe’s number crunchers struggle to find savings and national ministers of finance lift proverbial sofa cushions looking for revenue streams, public healthcare budgets are a tempting target. Bad idea, say Eucomed, the European Medical Technology Industry Association, and EDMA, the European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association. The long-term negative effects on healthcare budgets far outweigh short-term financial gains stemming from random cost-cutting, note the associations. They have joined forces in a coalition of other industry associations, trade unions and nine members of the European Parliament to draft an open letter to the European Council. The letter was published on June 22, 2012 in advance of the European Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the European Union (EU), which will be held on June 28 and 29 in Brussels.
The letter calls on European leaders to prioritize the healthcare needs of its citizens and focus on a sustainable and equitable Europe that fosters a healthy population. During severe economic downturns, “public healthcare is among the worst-hit sectors across the EU,” says Monika Kosińska, secretary general of the European Public Health Alliance, which is leading the coalition. Healthy citizens are a benefit—not a cost—bringing added value and economic growth, notes the letter.
Additionally, the coalition underlines the need for European leaders to support healthy citizens through innovative medical devices and diagnostics. Both industries are ready to play their part in improving the productivity and efficiency of healthcare systems, according to a press release announcing the open letter. In vitro diagnostics have a unique role in health efficiency and economic value, notes EDMA, as they influence the quality of patient care and downstream resource requirements, averting adverse health outcomes and unnecessary costs.