Health is wealth, as the old saying goes. True not only for individuals but also for us all; a healthy workforce is a prerequisite for a healthy economy and a healthy population means lower public health bills.
Yet many challenges need to be addressed to grant everybody’s legitimate wish for a long, happy and healthy life.
For instance, as Europe’s population ages, brain disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases become an increasing
burden. The cost to EU society of cerebral disorders was estimated by experts to be around €800 billion in 2010.
To date, one sixth of EU health research has been invested in leading international brain research to combat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, depression, or schizophrenia which affect millions of Europeans.
Antimicrobial resistance is another big challenge. More than 25,000 patients in the EU die each year from infections
caused by drug-resistant bacteria. Last-line antibioticresistant germs are now found regularly in many hospitals in the EU.
Responding to these challenges, EU research and innovation is an investment in our health as it will keep older people active and independent for longer, it will support the development of new, safer and more effective interventions and will help health and care systems to remain sustainable. It will improve the prevention and treatment of chronic and infectious disease, the prediction and management of pandemic threats and will help to fight antimicrobial resistance.
The return on this investment will include new ways to prevent disease, better diagnostics and more effective therapies, as well as the uptake of new models of care and new technologies promoting health and wellbeing. These
rely on a better understanding of the fundamental nature of health and disease, and of the means by which to promote the former and prevent and treat the latter.
EU health research promotes lifelong health and wellbeing for all and the competitiveness of European health related industries.
Between 2007- 2013, under the previous programme for research and technological development FP7, EU research
had financed more than 996 international health research projects, with more than 10,000 participants, from 123
countries and with an SME participation of 16%.
Supporting research in the area of health is therefore of crucial importance and focuses on:
- Fostering good health in ageing Europe: promote healthy ageing and prevent disease throughout the lifespan by tackling key issues (nutrition, physical activity, alcohol, drugs and tobacco consumption, environmental risks, accidents at work, in traffic or at home, etc.);
- Protecting citizens from health threats: combat pandemics or biological incidents and address the threat of bioterrorism and climate change;
- Supporting dynamic health systems and new technologies: e-health, genomics and biotechnologies revolutionise healthcare and health systems, lower costs and contribute to their future sustainability support and the shift from hospital care to prevention and better citizen-centred care.
Source: The European Commission