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On November 15, Ms. Fabienne Leloup from the University of Louvain presented the main findings and conclusions of the study on “cross-border cooperation in healthcare” during a meeting of the Committee on Regional Development (REGI).
The main objective of this study, commissioned by the REGI committee in December 2020, was to analyse the role of Cohesion Policy in cross-border cooperation in healthcare, with a focus on the 2014-2020 Interreg V-A programmes. The study also reviews the issue of governance related to such projects and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, it puts forward policy recommendations on how to improve cross-border cooperation in healthcare in the 2021-2027 programming period.
In her presentation, Ms. Leloup highlighted the significant contribution of Cohesion Policy: the number of healthcare-related projects has increased significantly in all Interreg programmes (A, B and C) in the 2014-2020 period. Main beneficiaries of Interreg V-A projects were professionals, patients and healthcare institutions; main priorities were training, treatment and diagnosis, equipment, information, campaign and publicity. The author of the study also highlighted that cross-border healthcare-related cooperation requires the support and involvement of a wide range of partners, medico-social institutions, health insurance entities and public authorities. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic had serious repercussions, for instance on the mobility of patients and healthcare staff; at the same time, there were also cases of cross-border solidarity including the provision of medical equipment, the exchanges of medical staff, the transfer of Covid-19 patients, testing, or vaccinating. The study also puts forward a number of recommendations, including improving the cross-border supply of healthcare by promoting e-medicine and joint public health and social services, establishing standard protocols and regular meetings for cross-border emergency services and promoting the role of specific intermediaries.
After the presentation, Members highlighted the role of minimum quality standards and European reference networks in cross-border cooperation in healthcare. Members also recalled the contribution of Cohesion Policy as the main funding source in the 2014-2020 period, the importance of a proper legal framework and the need for cross-border contracting to improve the daily lives of citizens living on both sides of the border.
Further reading: Cross-Border Cooperation in Healthcare