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20 November 2009
Brussels, 18 November - Members of Health First Europe (HFE) yesterday elected former MEP and UK Health Minister, Mr John Bowis, as Honorary President. The election took place at the Association's Annual General Meeting which this year commemorates its five year anniversary. "I have been a health enthusiast ever since I became active in politics and will continue doing my utmost to ensure that health stays high on the political agenda", said Mr Bowis. "Organisations like HFE that bring together myriad stakeholders in health are crucial to achieving this goal. I am honoured to take up the position as HFE’sHonorary President and very much look forward to working with our members and policy makers in the coming years".
In honour of its five year anniversary, HFE organised a high-level round table at the European Parliament entitled: “From Nice to Lisbon: an important step forward for EU Health?” Co-hosted by MEP Nessa Childers (Ireland, S&D) and MEP Antonio Correia de Campos (Portugal, S&D), the round table was attended by over 40 participants with an interest in EU Health policy. HFE members and other key stakeholders took this opportuntity to gain valuable insights into the many changes that will have an impact on health policy in the coming years.
It also marked the first public appearance for Mr Bowis as HFE’s official Honorary President. During the discussion, he expressed his concern over the challenges that the economic crisis is putting on healthcare systems in Europe. Similarly, Mr Fabian Zuulek, Senior Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre, called for a rethink on healthcare delivery. "The world has changed and with the economic crisis and an increase in unemployment, there will be radical changes in the way healthcare is delivered" he said.
Meanwhile, newly elected MEP Childers spoke of the impact of the Lisbon Treaty. She said that most competences regarding health issues will remain under the jurisdiction of the Member States but that 'there will be an increase in European cross-border cooperation'. MEP Correia who is also newly elected and formerly served as Health Minister in his native Portugal said that health has always had a low profile in the EU mainly because it has been considered a national matter. He added that despite health being included as part of EU legislation from the very start, it has been considered from an economic perspective.
Health First Europe is an alliance of various healthcare stakeholders and has been active for the last five years in advocating and raising awareness of different health related issues such as patient safety, health inequalities, patients’ access to better treatment, mobility of healthcare workers and new models of healthcare delivery.
John Bowis has been a Conservative Member of the European Parliament for London for the past 10 years, serving on the Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee, as well as the Development (DEVE) Committee.
He is the Spokesman for the Conservatives and the EPP-ED Group on the ENVI Committee. He is also Vice-President of the African-Caribbean-Pacific/EU (ACP/EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
During his mandate he was Rapporteur for the European Parliament on Food Safety; Health and Enlargement; Professional Qualifications; Health and Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries; the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control; Patient Mobility; Major and Neglected Diseases in Developing Countries; Mental Health; and the Cross-border Health Directive. Prior to joining the European Parliament, he had a distinguished career in the health sector, as UK Health Minister from 1992 to 1996 and UK Minister for Transport from 1996 to 1997.