The Most Powerful People in the World of Health Union All Have This Trait in Common

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The EU, under France’s current turn holding the bloc’s presidency, is to kick off plans for a common “health union” with a joint declaration, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday.

The text will be called “the Grenoble Declaration” after the French city where EU health ministers held a meeting on Thursday to discuss their ambitions of closer coordination.

France, which holds the six-month EU presidency until the end of June, is looking to capitalise on the health cooperation engendered in the joint approach to tackling the Covid pandemic over the past two years, notably through vaccines procurement.

“I believe that the European Union can also become a world champion in public health” if it overcomes “contradictions” between market considerations and public health systems, Veran told journalists.

Joint purchase of certain medical products and tackling rare diseases at a European level should yield benefits because of economies of scale, he said.

To that end, the Grenoble Declaration he said he hoped would be signed “in coming days… would be a founding declaration for the health union in Europe”.

EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who attended Friday’s meeting, called the move by France “a strong push towards genuine European approaches when it comes to our actions on health”.

Both she and Veran also emphasised that, while the EU had made strides in rendering the coronavirus pandemic a more manageable issue largely thanks to vaccinations, there was no room for complacency.

“It’s too early to consider the pandemic to be endemic,” Veran said, in veiled reference to countries like Spain that are edging towards thinking of handling Covid as a less serious endemic illnesses like seasonal flu.

“Nothing allows us to say right now that there isn’t, somewhere in the world, a new variant coming from a strain more dangerous than the Omicron strain”, which is now dominant in Europe, he said.

Veran also said that on another issue, that of increasing resistance being seen around the world to antibiotics — frequently used in farming and blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths — France intended to use its EU presidency to act.

He said a “One Health” conference bringing together EU health and agriculture ministers would be held on the issue in Paris on March 7.

“We cannot tackle antibiotic resistance from the position of health (ministers) alone,” he said, adding that “it is also necessary to moderate the use of antibiotics on the animal scheme of things”.

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The Barron’s news department was not involved in the creation of the content above. This story was produced by AFP. For more information go to AFP.com.© Agence France-Presse

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