The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a foundational weakness in our healthcare systems. Without investment across the care continuum (from prevention to survival), we will be no more prepared for the next public health crisis than we were for this one. And the clock is ticking!
While cancer is the second leading cause of death in Europe, evidence shows that the number of global cancer cases is expected to almost double by 2035, creating one of the greatest public health crises of the 21st century . Optimizing health policies and systems to boost cancer control and improve outcomes within available resources is therefore of critical importance, especially across the Central Eastern Europe (CEE) region.
In the first panel, in the plenary session (P2) A year of disturbance and disruption, Carly Kind, Casper Klynge and moderator Martin Mckee had some interesting discussions on the topic of data and privacy. This is of course more relevant than ever, most of us have seen first-hand how important quality data is during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Timely access to quality data could save lives in a crisis like this. However, the cost should not exceed the results, we still need to protect our personal data privacy. Let´s not normalize surveillance!
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed enormous challenges to health systems worldwide, from which many lessons are being drawn for future learning. The session on “Lessons learnt from COVID-19” was organised as part of the Digital Congress of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, #healsy20, and streamed at the EHFG 2020. While the speakers shared valuable lessons from their recent experiences, questions remain about how those learnings can be applied – now and in the future.
Lessons learnt are an interesting concept: they are usually difficult to identify on the spot, but often seem obvious in retrospect.
About midway through the session on Universal Health Coverage and the Role of the Health Workforce Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, reminded the audience of the story of Rudolf Virchow, a 19th century German physician known as one of the founders of social medicine. During his journey to study the typhus epidemic in Upper Silesia in 1847-1848, Virchow reached a conclusion that took the contemporary medical establishment by surprise – he saw the epidemic as a disease of poverty, and suggested that in order to tackle it effectively one needs to first tackle the underlying social and economic inequalities.
‘If not now, when?’ This was the question asked of panelists today by Marco Greco, President of the European Patients’ Forum, advocating for improved access to medicines across Europe.
His question captured a feeling of optimism that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that in an emergency setting, collaboration is both possible and vital, across sectors and across borders. It has also led to the emergence of some good initiatives of joint procurement for essential medicines, showcasing the benefits of shared purchasing power when countries come together to tackle common challenges.