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Healthcare as a source of inspiration for Europe

The health sector is a significant asset for Europe – not least because it has a high potential for future employment growth. However, our current healthcare systems are faced with huge challenges that threaten their sustainability. We discussed these issues with David Khougazian, the new President and CEO of Sanofi Pasteur MSD, who took part in our ‘State of Europe’ high-level roundtable.

Prevention activities are given low priority in European health systems. As the OECD has pointed out, only a very small percent of member states’ healthcare budgets are spent on prevention. We asked David Khougazian how policymakers could shift focus and resources towards prevention so as to improve population health. He told us that it is critical to inform and engage citizens on the benefits of prevention, particularly when considering Europe’s ageing population.

How can we shift focus and resources towards prevention to improve population health?

A new approach to pharmaceutical innovation is needed to make sure that discoveries match patients’ needs and ensure equitable access. We therefore asked David Khougazian how policymakers could foster and support greater innovation in European healthcare. He replied that Europe has the necessary foundations to have innovation-driven health systems, but lacks understanding on how to innovate in practice.

How could policymakers foster and support greater innovation in healthcare in Europe?

The economic crisis has negatively impacted health spending across Europe. Health needs to be recognised as a key contributor to societal and economic welfare, rather than being seen as a drain on limited public budgets. David Khougazian told us that the time is right to move health issues higher up the policy agenda and for healthcare to be repositioned and supported as a source of future innovation.

How could health be made a higher political priority in Europe?

This interview follows on from the participation of David Khougazian as an introductory discussant at our ‘State of Europe’ high-level roundtable – our annual large-scale brainstorm on the challenges that will shape Europe’s future. It is part of Friends of Europe’s Quality Europe pillar.

To find more food for thought, you are invited to read our report Adapting EU health policy to an evolving Europe, which features 21 key recommendations on what the EU should ‘Start’, ‘Stop’ or ‘Do Differently’ to improve the health status of Europeans. This report has been presented to EU and national decision-makers, including the EU Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis and MEPs at the European Parliament.