EU health ministers focus on youth smoking and future of healthcare

09 July 2013, Last updated at, 15:45 EEST
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Today the two-day Informal Meeting of Health Ministers – the first informal meeting of EU ministers during the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council – has ended in Vilnius, Lithuania. The delegates focused on three topics: sustainable healthcare systems, mental well-being of older people, and youth smoking.  

The meeting was attended by EU Health Ministers, the EU Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Mr. Tonio Borg and hosted by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania Mr. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis. 

The question how to prevent youth smoking provoked criticism addressed to the tobacco industry. The speakers pointed out that about 100 million people died from smoking related diseases in the 20th century. It was noted that the tobacco industry’s goal is to expand the clientele pool, making the user dependent at an early age.
“Tobacco industry is investing in young people and is steadily expanding its customer base. EU member states are determined to fight for the future of its citizens, "- said the Minister of Health Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis. Delegates unanimously agreed that it is socially reckless and financially irresponsible to allow tobacco maiming EU citizens. 
When discussing mental well-being of older people, delegates recognized the medical, social and economic importance of healthy aging. The Commissioner Mr. Tonio Borg stressed: “It is because of mental health problems that we lose capable, additional value creating citizens”. Delegates agreed that the focus needs to be shifted to finding measures for better integration into societies and labour market of people with mental health problems. A simple reduction of stress in working environment would improve the situation, delegates pointed out.
The delegates also discussed the importance of shifting towards sustainable healthcare systems. The Minister of Health Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis stressed that the EU healthcare systems face fundamental challenges: shifting demographic situation, economic hardships and assimilation of new technologies.
"Healthcare systems cost a lot, but do not satisfy the needs of EU citizens. Healthcare systems should not only be prepared for the challenges, but be prepared beforehand: does anyone imagine the fate of the state in which the national healthcare system goes bankrupt?"- told the Lithuanian Minister of Health.
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