Press statement: European mobilisation on 7 April

World Health Day action place Luxembourg

(Brussels 03 April 2024) This Sunday is World Health Day. This year is marked by the upcoming European elections. Three civil society organisations representing health and care workers, users, campaigners, NGOs and other associations (the European Federation of Public Service Trade Unions, Peoples Health Movement and the ‘Our health is not for sale’ network) will mark the day by calling for health issues to be placed at the forefront of the European agenda – a demand many citizens agree with.

Matilde De Cooman, People’s Health Movement, says: "The pandemic taught us that allowing the pharmaceutical industry to put its financial interests before public health imperatives is a huge threat to the population, especially the weakest. There is an urgent need to develop a public infrastructure for pharmaceutical research, development and production at European level. The European Parliament will be giving its views on this issue on 10 and 11 April.”

Yves Hellendorff, ‘Our Health is not for sale’ network, adds: "The pandemic has exacerbated the problems of healthcare staff shortages: tens of thousands of healthcare workers have fled the sector, which was already in difficulty. Investment to improve pay and working conditions for healthcare staff cannot be blocked by the reintroduction of European budgetary control measures. Europe is at a crossroads: budgetary orthodoxy or public health. This debate will be central to the forthcoming European elections.”

Jan Willem Goudriaan, EPSU, spoke on staff shortages, an issue which the Belgian Presidency of the EU is attempting to address. Goudriaan said: “What’s been proposed by the European Commission and EU Council so far falls short of demonstrating the requisite ambition needed to tackle these challenges effectively. These plans recognise the lack of quality employment as a factor driving job shortages, but proposed solutions remain vague, unenforceable, or - in the worst-case scenario - suggest a potential commodification of labour. The plan does not address improving collective bargaining nor does it make the link between economic governance rules and their impact on the financing that is necessary to increase staffing and improve pay and conditions. We need more and we need it soon!”

For these reasons, the organisers are holding a demonstration on Sunday, 7 April at Place Luxembourg, Brussels at 13h30 and a conference on Monday, 8 April at 9h30 in the European Parliament. Practical information can be found here.

ENDS

For more information: Pablo Sanchez [email protected] 0032 474626633