Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union

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Sustainability of Health Systems

Community pharmacists provide an increasing number of healthcare services and public health interventions next to their main dispensing service which improve access and quality of health care services. This helps health systems to move away from the traditional hospital-centric models and contributes to the resilience of health systems in Europe.

The sustainability of health systems is on top of national governments’ and the European Union agendas.
In line with European and international institutions priorities, PGEU believes that expanding the role of community pharmacy and strengthening primary care systems are key policy levers to lead the way towards a more sustainable, inclusive and healthier future in Europe.
A variety of challenges including population ageing, increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and short-term costs of new therapies led to substantial rise in health expenditures, putting sustainability of European health systems at risk. As such, all EU Member States face growing pressures for ensuring quality, effectiveness and efficiency of their health systems within the capacity of their public budgets.

As outlined in the “Health at a Glance: Europe 2016” report by OECD and European Commission, more attention to prevention and stronger primary care systems could reduce the burden of chronic diseases and help European population to live healthier and longer and ultimately save up to 1.2 million lives today lost largely due to a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases.

The PGEU’s Economics Working Group (EWG) met on 21 September 2017 to discuss challenges to achieve sustainable and resilient health systems and the contribution of community pharmacists. PGEU EWG believes that already today pharmacies play a key role in reducing inequalities in access and quality of healthcare, as well as the number of avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalisations across EU countries. The network of 160.000 community pharmacies in Europe provides a unique opportunity to improve access to disease prevention programmes, immunisation, health screening, etc. through provision of increasing number of health services for all citizens.

In line with empirical evidence, PGEU members recommend the following actions at national level to contribute to high quality, inclusive and sustainable health systems in Europe: