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Cross-border health threats in the EU

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Public health security, which is the responsibility of Member States, is currently coordinated at EU level through an early warning and response system (EWRS), the informal Health Security Committee and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Recent public health threats, such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic, have shown that coordination at EU level has been effective, but is in need of improvement. The International Health Regulations, which have been in force since 2007, set out a global  approach to health threats

European coordination mechanisms are currently limited to health threats from communicable diseases. The European Commission has proposed a revised system which would cover a wider range of health threats, including threats of biological, chemical, environmental or other origin. The proposed Decision would formalise the Health Security Committee, ensure better information exchange and coordination, and provide for optional joint procurement of vaccines.

Joint procurement of vaccines would bring a number of benefits, but also some difficulties and risks. The vaccines industry warns that joint procurement may discourage innovation and reduce the number of suppliers if contract volumes are too large and price is used as the dominant criterion.

Read the full Library Briefing (PDF) on the EP Public Register

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