On 8 February, the Committee of the Regions’ Interregional Group on Health and Wellbeing held its constitutive meeting of 2022 to set priorities for their meetings the upcoming year. There is no denying that COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic challenges continue to be a crucial topic. The contributions from the members of the Interregional Group clearly reflected that there are many different facets to these challenges and many of them are interlinked with each other.

After an efficient discussion, the Interregional Group agreed on the following priorities, in line with the CoR IRGHW Work Programme 2020-2025. The report on The State of Health in the EU, published in December 2021 was agreed as the topic for the next meeting, scheduled for 22 April. Given that the report was published late in the year, the Interregional Group has not yet had the chance to discuss it together. Nevertheless, it is a very rich source of information on Member States’ healthcare systems and their performance in the face of challenges.

Another issue suggested by the group members was that of the gender dimension in health and healthcare, which was agreed as the topic of the second IRGHW meeting foreseen in July. Various approaches were suggested for the gender issue, such as focusing on treatments, drugs, and specific pathologies (e.g. breast cancer, prostate cancer).

Digitalisation and cost-effectiveness are two topics that have gained significant importance in recent years, most notably as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis, and are widely expected to stay relevant for many years to come. This is also visible in the main topics selected for the European Week of Regions and Cities 2022, taking place in October: green transition, territorial cohesion, digital transition, and youth empowerment. Hooking onto the topic of digital transition, it was decided to focus the third CoR IRGHW meeting on digitalization of healthcare systems with a special focus on cost-effectiveness, within the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities in October 2022.

The topic of mental health was put forward by several members and all those present acknowledged its importance. It was agreed to discuss this during the last meeting of the year, as the last meeting of 2021 was also focused on mental health and this would create a fitting opportunity to reflect on the progress made in one year.

For more detailed information, the minutes of the Constitutive Meeting as well as the CoR IRGHW Work Programme 2020-2025 are available via the buttons below.