Informal Health Council: 14th March 2013

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anna Soubry)
EU Health Ministers met in Dublin, in Ireland, on 4 and 5 March. I represented the UK. The agenda included discussions on childhood obesity, the impact of the economic crisis on health systems, children with complex developmental needs, patient safety, and on moving towards a smoke-free environment.

The meeting began with a discussion on childhood obesity. There was broad agreement that it was beneficial to continue to develop voluntary collaboration between member states in this field. This discussion was followed by a debate on the impact of the economic situation on health systems, focusing on avoiding or mitigating a negative impact on the provision of health services. There was also a discussion of complex developmental needs in children, with a particular focus on autism.

The second day included discussions on smoke-free environments and patient safety. The discussion on patient safety focused on healthcare associated infections, and the experience of member states in preventing and combating these.

The Council also gave the opportunity to stress the UK position on the economic cost of not addressing the causes of non-communicable diseases and that prevention is vital to the health of UK patients and the UK economy. It is therefore important that the UK works with other member states in tackling issues such as tobacco misuse and obesity and the Council provided a forum to share best practice at the European level.

The meeting concluded with an AOB item on the importation of active pharmaceutical ingredients from third countries, following the coming into force of the falsified medicines directive. A number of member states, including the UK, called on the Commission to redouble their efforts to ensure that there were no shortages of active pharmaceutical ingredients following the implementation of the legislation.