EU Health Ministers Discussed Drugs and Tuberculosis in Bratislava

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis (left) and Slovak Health Minister Tomas Drucker (right); (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, October 4 (TASR) – Increasing the availability of drugs, as well as vaccinations, tuberculosis and food reformulation were high on the agenda of a two-day informal meeting of health ministers from 28 EU-member states that began in Bratislava on Monday (October 3), TASR learnt on Tuesday.

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis and World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab also took part in the event organised within the Slovak Presidency of the EU Council.

The EU health ministers dealt with the issue of a shortage of medicines for human use. According to Slovak Health Minister Tomas Drucker (Smer-SD nominee), who led the sessions, the shortages are mainly caused by low drug prices leading to parallel exports, a disruption in production and the lack of active substance. The ministers concurred that the individual member states can succeed in solving this issue via early and operational exchanges of information and a regular mapping of the situation.

“At this forum, we mainly focused on identifying the main reasons for the shortage of drugs and on searching for solutions to resolve this issue. Our goal is to secure quality, safe and accessible treatment for all our patients,” said Drucker.

Andriukaitis welcomed Slovakia’s initiative to address the particular issue. He noted that the European Commission supports the EU countries in their efforts to cooperate in negotiating prices and supplies of medicines.

Another topic discussed at the meeting was food reformulation with regard to increasing rates of overweight and obese people, which have already reached epidemic levels in Europe. The EU health ministers agreed that Europe has to adopt measures that will promote decreasing the excessive intake of calories, saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugar and salts in food.

Moreover, the ministers in Bratislava also focused on the issue of tuberculosis in Europe from the perspective of treatment, multidrug resistance and vaccination. The disease is not only a problem of public health care but globally also a social, economic and security threat. “Slovakia is a central European country with a well-established system of monitoring and treatment of TB patients,” said the Slovak health minister.

Furthermore, the participants of the informal meeting touched on the issue of vaccination, which is closely linked to the consumption of antibiotics – a decreasing number of vaccination results in the higher consumption of antibiotics. “A global action plan against antimicrobial resistance should be one of the priorities of the health policy in every country,” said Drucker.