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27 Health Ministers discuss joint action in the fight against cancer and responses to COVID-19

16 Mar · 18h10

© Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / António Pedro Santos/LUSA

The Portuguese Minister for Health, Marta Temido, chaired an informal video conference of European Union Health Ministers this Tuesday, 16 March, from the headquarters of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon.


Also taking part in the meeting were the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, and representatives of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency.


The order of business began with the presentation and discussion of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, a programme promoted by the European Commission and which proposes a new approach from the European Union in terms of cancer prevention, treatment and care. The Minister for Health highlighted the importance of this plan for the implementation of new and more effective public health strategies and policies, a process that will be supported and encouraged by the Portuguese Presidency.

Vaccinations and next steps for the 27 in the fight against COVID-19

In the afternoon, when many contributions were made, the meeting proceeded with a special focus on the European response to COVID-19, particularly the next steps to be taken by the Member States regarding non-pharmacological ways of fighting the pandemic, such as the widely known respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette and social distancing measures.

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© Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / Pedro Sá da Bandeira

This was followed by a review of the current status of the different national plans, with the Portuguese Presidency emphasising the relevance of streamlining the various vaccination plans, in conjunction with the European Commission, as well as the need to speed up vaccine production.

“ It is essential that we optimise the implementation of non-pharmacological measures Europe-wide, so that we will be better able to discuss subjects like the gradual lifting of restrictions. ”

Marta Temido, Portuguese Minister for Health

“However, we must also focus on the success of the national vaccination campaigns. To this end, it is vital we do everything in our power, in conjunction with the efforts of the Commission, to ensure timely delivery of the doses already ordered, as well as to promote speedier COVID-19 vaccine production”, she went on to say.


The "European Health Union” legislative package, which will allow information from the different Member States to be analysed, thus bolstering the joint work in the response to health crises as well as reinforcing the resilience of European health systems to cross-border health threats, was also the subject of discussion and an exchange of views.

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Marta Temido, Portuguese Minister for Health © Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / António Pedro Santos/LUSA

The Presidency has been working very hard on the negotiation of the three legislative proposals in the “European Health Union” package – regulations on the reviewed mandates of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency, as well as the proposal for regulation of serious cross-border health threats – adopting a strategy that will ensure these are both complementary and consistent.


At the close of the video conference, Marta Temido also brought the European Health Ministers up to date on the work being done on the “Regulation on Health Technology Assessment”, a priority issue for the Portuguese Presidency and one that is aimed at creating a mechanism to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of new medicines and medical devices at European level.