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The right to health of the European Union citizens. A strategy for a social European construction
  1. M Garcia,
  2. M Sanchez Bayle
  1. Secretario y Portavoz respectivamente de la Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Publica, Madrid, Spain
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Sanchez Bayle; 
 fadspu{at}teleline.es

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The fundamentals of the European construction were only economic until the Unique Act was passed. Then some social aspects were partially incorporated.

Several advances in the field of common citizens’ rights have, indeed, been introduced (free movement and residency, etc). Advances in matters such as education, health care, culture, and the fight against illicit drugs have been quite limited.

In the field of health policies, only a few measures of health protection to prevent diseases by means of research, improvement of information, and health education, etc, have been adopted to date. In summary, the social counterparts of the economic measures are not very concrete.

The absence of a common social policy may create serious problems and imbalances in public health, as a consequence of the influence of the health care expenditure on every country’s economic competence ability. Differences in the services offered may attract patients toward the countries with best public services. The free circulation of persons may endanger the persistence of health services as ours, because we are receptors of retired people, whose health care consumption is fourfold that of the younger. Differences in the technological means available, and in professional training, may lead to an attraction of the best professionals by the most developed countries.

A common and homogeneous social policy should be implemented. Nevertheless, many of the reforms developed by the different countries were aimed to reduce the public expenditure, to introduce the market in to health care relations, and to increase the presence of the private sector in it. The results of such a strategy are being catastrophic for the rationality, the efficiency, and the equity of the health care systems, and also for their users’ right to health.

Some proposals should, therefore, be advanced to get a Letter of the Rights to Health of the Europeans that ought to be incorporated to the project now debated. It should include the right to health protection for all. A common public health system is needed for that. It must contemplate universal health care provisions, and a homogenous offer in different countries. A public insurance, and a redistributive financing, ensuring a minimal common health care expenditure, must guarantee the equity in access to services. The present existing differences between health systems should not be forgotten. We should be conscious that we live in a progressively more interconnected world. If we wish a really consistent EU, the persons’ rights ought to play an increasingly prominent part.

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