On 9 December, EUREGHA – the reference network of European Regional and Local Health Authorities – held its high-level annual conference. The conference was organized to discuss the ongoing transformation of the health and social care systems in Europe. Regional and local health authorities are working together to promote a shift towards a sustainable approach that leaves no-one behind. Many innovations, both in terms of policies and services, are happening at territorial level and revolve around different topics. The event aimed to bring together national and regional health stakeholders to explore which problems we are facing and how we can cooperate to build more resilient healthcare systems.

Jan de Maeseneer, the Chair of the European Commission Expert Panel on Effective Ways of investing in health,  dedicated his intervention to the new opinion ‘The organization of resilient health and social care following the COVID-19 pandemic’. Andrea Renda, Senior Research Fellow CEPS, presented the H2020 PERISCOPE project, which aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic. He encouraged the participants to contribute to the project by sending in good practices of innovative solutions that were implemented in communities and regions.

Throughout the panel debate, EUREGHA members and external stakeholders exchanged their views on which urgent changes are necessary for the European health and social care systems to ensure better health in all regions. The panellists agreed that we should not re-invent the wheel and that it is crucial to create patient-centred ecosystems that bear in mind both the needs of the citizens and the overall challenges in the field of healthcare. In order to succeed, we must learn from the people on the ground, who are best placed to identify both problems and solutions.

Maya Matthews, Head of Unit B1 Performance of Health Systems at DG SANTE, in her closing remarks, stressed the need for a more important role for Europe in the field of healthcare and analyzed which European actions have already been taken. She underlined that it is crucial to exchange information, collaborate among the Member States and Regions, and address inequalities to protect the most vulnerable citizens.

During the debate, EUREGHA, the ECHAlliance and the RSCN stressed the idea of establishing an Interregional thematic partnership for smart specialisation (TSSP) on health and wellbeing. We encourage you to take a look at the factsheet to learn more about the TSSP and to find out how to establish this. Do not hesitate to reach out to the EUREGHA Secretariat if you wish to receive more information about this.