The Right to health as a fundamental human right needs to be implemented in Europe

Adam Rogalewski EPSU Health officer 24 June, CGIL demonstration, Rome

(26 June 2023) EPSU supported CGIL members in their demonstration on 24 June in Rome calling for the implementation of the right to health as stipulated in the Italian Constitution.

EPSU was represented by Adam Rogalewski, Policy Officer responsible for health and social services.

The demonstration aimed to remind policy makers about the right to health guaranteed by the constitution, as well as to express related demands which are shared by all healthcare unions in the European Union and beyond. The demands include changing European public procurement regulations to block companies from receiving public grants if they do not respect collective bargaining and trade unions rights, as well as amending the rules of the Italian procurement code to ensure that the necessary resources are dedicated to health and safety in companies.

See CGIL demands here

 Adam Rogalewski, in conveying a message of solidarity on behalf of European healthcare workers, underlined that the right to healthy and safe working conditions is a fundamental human right that cannot stay only on paper but needs to be fulfilled to provide protection for everyone. Moreover, we need to ensure that the right to health, being a fundamental right in the EU, is protected and implemented on the national level and European levels. To that end he highlighted that national governments need to guarantee the World Health Organization demands for Universal Health Coverage and access to public healthcare, and on the EU level the Bucharest declaration. Furthermore, European institutions need to implement the European Pillars of Social Rights in particular in relation to access to healthcare. For instance, Principle 16 of the European Pillars of Social Rights states: Everyone has the right to timely access to affordable, preventive and curative healthcare of good quality.

He stressed that the Covid pandemic exacerbated the existing problems in healthcare in Europe with one of the existing problems being commercialisation and inadequate investment in the sector, as well as increasing staff shortages in health and social services which is estimated to be at the level of 2 million workers. Staff shortages need to be urgently addressed and this is why EPSU, jointly with the hospital employers updated their Framework of Action on Recruitment and Retention.  Also, CGIL recently the launched their  extraordinary plans for hiring new workers in the healthcare sector.

It is right to say that from low wages to inadequate health and safety protection health and social care workers have suffered enormously both during and after the pandemic. Moreover, we have seen increases in violence against health professionals, and as a result,  to protect workers from third party violence and harassment, EPSU is conducting a project on possible update of the cross sectoral agreements against third party violence.

Finally, Adam Rogalewski thanked CGIL colleagues for their support at the EPSU health and social care demonstration last year in Brussels. More than ever three years after the pandemic we need to build European trade union solidarity to improve the working and living conditions of healthcare workers and guarantee universal access to healthcare. Applause is not enough, and we need action now.