World Health Day: "Basic healthcare services need to be accessible to all" 

Everyone should be able to enjoy basic healthcare services, regardless of where they live ©BELGA/AGEFOTOSTOCK/M.Alam  

World Health Day is marked every year on 7 April, the ideal opportunity to highlight what still needs to be improved. "Basic healthcare services need to be accessible to all, regardless of income," said UK S&D member Linda McAvan, chair of the Parliament's development committee. Over the years the Parliament has tried to help strengthen healthcare systems in different parts of the world.

The month of April is also dedicated to health issues as part of 2015 being the European Year for Development. The importance of good health was also underlined by three out of eight Millennium Goals - which are concrete targets for international development efforts until this year - being focussed on health matters: child mortality, maternal health and the HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis epidemics. The Ebola outbreak over the past last year also showed the problems facing health providers in the developing world.

McAvan said there were many problems that needed to be dealt with: "Providing effective basic healthcare services for everyone is one of the key challenge for developing countries today. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has clearly revealed that in certain parts of the world these services are severely lacking and need to be strengthened as a matter of urgency.”

However, improving the situation would be difficult, McAvan stressed. “This needs both the investment and political will to ensure that medical personnel, infrastructure and equipment are in place and can be sustained in the long run, not just in times of emergency. Basic healthcare services need to be accessible to all, regardless of income.“

What the European Parliament has already done to help

The European Parliament has called for allocating aid funds to health and social services. It has succeeded in setting a 20% minimum of the EU's 2014-2020 Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) for Latin America and Asia for basic social services, in particular health and education, and is calling for the same target to apply to aid to Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries.

… and what it will be doing

The Parliament has reaffirmed that health is a fundamental human right and has called for equitable, universal and sustainable health protection, with a special emphasis on preventing maternal, new-born and child deaths, as well as to help with diseases such as Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

McAvan said the Parliament would continue to support good health services: “The European Parliament is working on this message of strengthening healthcare systems as a priority, calling for healthcare to be at the heart of the EU's approach to the global talks this year on replacing the Millennium Development Goals and how to finance them. We know from our own experience in Europe that a healthy population is the foundation for our societies and economies to be able to grow and prosper. It is the world's common challenge during this European Year for Development to work to make universal health coverage a reality."