ECO Responds to Consultation on EU Health Emergency Preparedness

13 March 2024

The European Cancer Organisation (ECO) has responded to a recent consultation by the European Commission on the newly established Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (DG-HERA).

During the Covid-19 pandemic, cancer services were severely impacted across Europe. Although ECO welcomes the establishment of DG HERA to strengthen prevention, preparedness and readiness for new public health emergencies, ECO prefers that this new entity be an independent agency of the EU, similar to the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. This would provide greater transparency and effectiveness by allowing strong reporting lines to the European Parliament, and enabling patient and healthcare representatives in its governance structure.

In consultation with its membership and Patient Advisory Committee, ECO suggested the following modifications, which include a review of HERA's governance and mandate:

  1. HERA should have the mandate, budget and support to conduct health workforce mapping and planning activities.

This would enable the EU to better respond across borders to the severe workforce shortage among healthcare professionals. This workforce shortage is a critical risk for health system resilience and effectiveness – as much as medicine and product shortages.

  1. HERA should strive for greater international cooperation in responding to the common labour shortage crisis.

This could be achieved in collaboration with other international entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). ECO further identifies the need to significantly improve the architecture of global health cooperation and the future risks to health and national health systems.

  1. Public reporting tools for Covid-19 vaccine uptake should be extended to other vaccines critical to European and global health, such as for HPV and Hepatitis B.

Our full response is available here.