Education And Debate

How should European health policy develop? A discussion

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 09 July 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:116
  1. Tessa Richards,
  2. Richard Smith
  1. associate editor, editor.
  1. Correspondence to: Tessa Richards.

    Until February 1992, when the Maastricht Treaty on European Union was signed, the European Community had no legal basis to act on public health. The inclusion of article 129 (box), the health chapter of the treaty, changed this, and the European Union is now legally obliged to work towards improving public health in its member states. It has also to consider the health implications of other European Union policies such as those related to the environment and agriculture. In April we held a conversation in Brussels with people at the heart of the debate: Andre Emmanuel Baert, head of division, medical and health research Directorate General XII, European Commission; Adriana Ceci, member of European parliament for Bari, Italy and chair of European parliament intergroup on health; Ken Collins, member of European parliament for Strathclyde and chair of European parliament's environment, public health, and consumer protection committee; Andrew Hayes, secretary of European Public Health Alliance; William Hunter, director of public health division, Directorate General V, European Commission; Michael Joffe, chair of European Public Health Alliance; and Hans Stein, director of European Union health affairs, Ministry of Health, Bonn, Germany, and member of European Union Health Council, commission high level committee on public health, and commission advisory committee on health research.

    RICHARD SMITH: Before discussing the aims of the European Union public health policy we should define what public health means in this context.

    KEN COLLINS: It's easier to define what it is not—it is not about the health care of individuals or health care delivery. It is about the health of the public in the collective sense and includes other areas that affect general health such as environmental policy. Broadly, we all accept the World Health Organisation's definition: “The expression of public health is now used in a broad sense to …

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