European elections in 2019 will be an opportunity to decide the future of Europe, but it is extremely important that all politicians at the local, regional, national and European level work together and offer solutions, said in an interview for CaleaEuropeana.ro, Dara Murphy, Vice-President of the European People’s Party and EPP campaign director for the 2019 elections.
„Every election is a challenge, but I think we are all aware of the biggest issues that we face as a continent, as a people. But we also have to acknowledge that even we’ve seen very significant improvement across our continent, most people haven’t yet seen the benefit often during their daily lives. European elections are an opportunity to decide where we want to go together. I think the story that we can tell, in the European People’s Party is a positive story because we are a party that delivers for our constituencies, for our people, right down into their communities. Real people on the ground are very important part on this elections because is our citizens, our European citizens and the challenges they face, that they want their politicians – local, regional, national and European – to work together and provide solutions. I think a coordinated campaign to listen to what citizens want is a crucial one. At the same time, we must admit that we have not done everything well and that we have major challenges and difficulties “, said Murphy at the end of a meeting with the EPP Group of the European Committee of the Regions, the institution that represents over 300 regions and local communities in the European Union.
“You must remember that the members of the EPP Group in the COR are local, regional politicians, but at the same time they are European politicians because they are members of the European Committee of the Regions. We want participate in the campaigning European parliament’s elections in 2019. There are a lot of reasons. One important reason is a lot of trust in local and regional politicians. Citizens trust local and regional politicians because they are close to them, they have the chance to meet them and we want to tell about our story, about our influence in the European decision-making process. We want to convince people that it is important to vote for the European Parliament because, together, a work between the members of the European Parliament and members of the Committee of the Regions, we can have a lot of influence, from European level at the regional level on the process European decision-making”, noted, on the other hand, Michael Schneider, the EPP leader of the European Committee of the Regions.
„Romania will be at the Presidency of the EU Council, at a “hot phase” of the EU, during the European elections. There will be this very exciting period when many of the large political events will take place within your country, that includes ministerial, prime-ministerial, Committee of the Regions. We have a very large exciting program, which includes events in the three capitals cities that will have the Presidency (n.r. of the states that will hold the EU presidency in 2019) over the next 18 months. We look forward to spending a lot of time in Romania during the campaign and working with Romanian MEPs, and of course, with those who will run with the members of the Romanian Parliament with our political family. We will also organise not just in Romania, as in other states, events at local level, in cities, across Romania and other member states. We will work to have such events in all Member States, and of course we will bring our lead candidate that we will be selecting in November 2018 to Romania to show what the collective vision that this candidate and our party have. We will see a lot of Romania in this campaign “, Dara Murphy said, answering a question about the plans the EPP for Romania, given that Romania will hold the EU presidency in the year when European elections will take place.
Asked about the importance of the regions, as Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Executive, announced that a summit for the future of Europe will take place in Sibiu in 2019, he pointed out that “Romania will play a crucial role in the electoral campaign because Romania has the presidency (n.r. EU Presidency) in the first half of 2019. This is the moment when the most important events will take place. We are also planing an event with local and regional politicians form Romania, and I hope that our candidate will also attend this meeting and give an example for the whole of Europe that he is committed to have a debate with local and regional politicians”. In conclusion, Dara Murphy stressed that the person who will be selected to run for the post of President of the European Commission will be one who will be in many other regions of the Member States, not only in the capital, pointing out the importance of the regions.
In conclusion, Dara Murphy stressed that the person who will be selected to run for the post of President of the European Commission will be one who will be in many other regions of the Member States, not only in the capital, pointing out the importance of the regions.
VIDEO INTERVIEW. Dara Murphy, EPP Vice-President and Campaign Director for the 2019 European elections we are a party that deliveres for our constituencies, for our people, right down into their communities
Michael Schneider, the EPP leader in CoR: Together, a work between the members of the European Parliament and members of the Committee of the Regions, we can have a lot of influence, from European level at the regional level on the process European decision-making
MEP Vasile Blaga: Firm decisions are needed to boost vaccination in Romania. We cannot afford new pressure on the health system
MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) believes that “firm decisions are needed to stimulate vaccination in Romania”, stressing that “we cannot afford a new pressure on the health system like in wave 4”.
“The year 2021 ends primarily under the sign of the pandemic generated by COVID 19. We all know the effects of wave 4 in Romania. Even if at the moment the figures are in reasonable ranges, what is happening in countries with high vaccination rates is a warning signal for the new wave of the pandemic. Authorities in Bucharest need to take firm decisions to increase vaccination rates. There is no time for hesitation. Sceptics should take a closer look at the fact that despite high infection figures, the number of deaths and serious cases is low in countries with high vaccination rates. This is where the effectiveness of vaccines can be seen,” said Blaga.
He said that the Romanian health system can no longer afford an over-supply such as in wave 4, which had a major and totally unfair impact on all sick people in Romania.
“We must activate the community spirit in Romania and realise that the fact that we vaccinate helps our neighbours, including the fact that a potential infection with Covid 19 does not deny access to hospital to a patient with a chronic disease,” the MEP added.
“The decision of each of us on vaccination has knock-on effects”, concluded Vasile Blaga.
MEP Vasile Blaga: Eliminating gender gaps in the European labour market – a priority for the European Parliament
Closing the gender gap in the European labour market was at the top of last week’s plenary agenda, said MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) on Monday.
The European Parliament’s last plenary session this year put gender inequality in the European labour market on the agenda. Statistics show that at EU level there is still a pay gap of more than 14 percentage points (14.1%) between men and women and a wider pension gap of almost 30 percentage points, both to the disadvantage of women. Moreover, the report voted on at the last plenary session of the European Parliament also notes that women face a precarious situation in the labour market.
“Together with the EPP Group in the European Parliament, I voted in favour of the report on gender equality to draw attention once again to the fact that Member States must come up with concrete proposals to minimise gender inequalities and to strongly support women’s rights in the European Union”, said the EPP MEP for CaleaEuropeană.ro.
The report adopted in the European Parliament also focuses on eradicating violence against women, a phenomenon which has increased significantly during the pandemic.
“Abuse against women must be vigorously prosecuted and the perpetrators must be investigated and punished without hesitation. Moreover, monitoring and protection programmes for victims of domestic violence need to be improved in order to minimise this phenomenon”, added Vasile Blaga.
In a non-legislative report adopted last Wednesday by 500 votes to 105 with 87 abstentions, MEPs reiterated that equal pay and equal treatment are an essential prerequisite for women to enjoy equal rights, economic independence and professional fulfilment.
They call on Member States to take practical measures to ensure that women have equal access to the labour market and jobs and that they enjoy equal pay and equal rights as workers. For example, to achieve this, sanctions should be imposed on companies that do not comply with labour law. In this respect, MEPs welcome the Commission’s proposal for mandatory pay transparency measures. However, they stress that pay transparency alone will not be enough to address deep-rooted gender inequalities.
A government project to digitise healthcare is needed. More calls from Romanian experts at national and European level
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a health system that can cope with paradigm shifts in remote healthcare, and telemedicine has been a great help to patients as well as doctors over the past two years. Thus, the digitalisation of the health system and health services is a topic of interest at European and national level. However, there is an uneven development of digitisation and e-Health solutions in EU countries in Central and Eastern Europe, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
National authorities, European decision-makers, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry responded to the initiative launched by www.CaleaEuropeana.ro and the Romanian Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (ARPIM) and held an open dialogue on the European opportunities for digitisation of the healthcare system in Romania, but also on the steps that our country needs to go through in the digital transition so that Romanian patients can benefit in the coming years from easy access to healthcare and telemedicine.
The main lessons learned by the European Union since the beginning of the pandemic and until now were discussed, as well as the need to accelerate the digital transition in the European Union’s health systems, but especially the importance for the Romanian authorities, regardless of political colour, to establish a unitary strategy for the digitisation of health, a strategy that coordinates the institutions in the field and is connected to European directives.
The digitisation of the Romanian health system must allow transparent access to reliable data which must be published in formats suitable for secondary use, for epidemiological or health policy analysis.
Topics of interest for Romania in the field of digitisation of health can be (non-exhaustive list): European Cancer Knowledge Database; European Cancer Imaging Initiative; Cancer Management Inequalities Registry in Member States; Connecting e-prescribing and electronic patient record systems between Member States; Connecting and exchanging information between reference centres for rare diseases; Participation in transnational registries in the field of chronic diseases; National/transnational remote medical consultations and second opinion in imaging or pathology; Evaluation of health apps for reimbursement, etc.
Develop a government project covering the key issues for digitisation in health, needed
Prof. Dr. Adrian Streinu-Cercel, President of the Health Committee of the Romanian Senate, calls for a government project covering the key aspects of digitisation in health: “To be an integrated system it has to start from one head, i.e. the Romanian Government. If we don’t decide what we want this digitisation to look like, it will be everyone with their own database, everyone with their own application.”
- We have the opportunity to do a very good job from the beginning and for that we all have to sit around the same table, regardless of political colours, and discuss how we want this national digitisation programme to look like and how to integrate with other countries, if we want that.
Romania needs to establish a National Contact Point to align our country with European directives
Ștefan Busnatu, advisor for digitisation to the Minister of Health, set up a digitisation strategy for the health system a year ago, which unfortunately has not been integrated into the NRDP.
- We need to establish a National Contact Point, which will deal with the whole digitisation component in order to be aligned with the Brussels directives and all the European reforms. The National Contact Point is a three million euro project, which theoretically has to be taken on by someone. At the moment the CNAS have sent the assumption from a coordination point of view. It is important to decide where it would be most coherent to create the National Contact Point in Romania for digitisation and digital transformation.
The time has come for telemedicine to offer patients a better quality of life, while giving doctors new tools
Adela Cojan, President of the National Health Insurance House, reviewed the latest national milestones for the digital transformation of Romania’s healthcare system. A Memorandum has been signed at governmental level for tripartite participation to access European funds for the development of the project “IT systems for connecting to the electronic health record the providers of paraclinical services, specialist outpatient, rehabilitation, home care, providers of clinical services, palliative, medical devices or emergency consultations at home”, being basically an extension of the electronic health record, which was initially designed only on family medicine and hospitals.
- The societal and economic benefits of the widespread use of telemedicine are practically enormous. At the moment we are far from being fully in the middle of their use, but I believe the time has come for telemedicine to offer patients a better quality of life, while giving doctors new tools. It is a challenge, there have been reservations, but now in the areas where we have introduced remote consultations they have been widely accepted, which is why we have also extended them in the regulations for next year.
Lack of interoperability of databases in the healthcare system, one of the critical issues
Adrian Hatos, Chairman of the Committee for Science, Innovation and Technology in the Romanian Senate, says that one of the critical problems facing the entire public system in Romania, not only the medical system, but also the administration and education, is the interoperability of databases or the interoperability of data in general in the medical system, which makes it impossible to access and use data: “We have the possibility of datafication, big data techniques and remote communication in education or medicine. The problem in Romania is primarily institutional and human rather than technical.”
- So far there have been public and European financial resources for digitisation. We need to look at the problem of working with so many database systems that cannot communicate with each other. We have the opportunity of RRF funding, but also the implementation of a governmental Cloud to force the creation or implementation of a data infrastructure that is unitary, standardised at national level, so that we can communicate in the various structures and take advantage of the opportunities that telemedicine offers.
- The digital transition must also include changing the attitude of doctors and patients towards technology.
- The Committee on Science, Innovation and Technology of the Romanian Senate can initiate legislation and support legislation in this area. It can initiate debates in the Senate on digitisation in health.
Patient registers, the most important thing today when it comes to digitising health
Felicia Ciulu Costinescu, Director, Medical Technologies Evaluation Directorate, National Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices of Romania (ANMDMR), says that digitisation of healthcare has become a necessity for facilitating the patient pathway in the healthcare system and has become more important in the context of the pandemic.
- ANMDMR experts are active and present in Brussels working groups of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the European Commission, including in task forces dedicated to digital transformation: “This concern comes from the need to provide EU patients with innovative solutions and emerging technologies. All this can only be achieved by transforming and optimising regulatory processes, improving centres of expertise, providing digital solutions and building an e-learning ecosystem. All of this requires investment over time, but the process has been started and will bring the benefits it was designed to deliver.
- The digitisation paradigm is a complex one. Patient registries are the most important thing at the moment when we talk about digitising health. The need for these registries is even greater as very high-cost personalised therapies are knocking at the door. These registries will be useful when we want to have access to some data. Interconnecting them with both national and existing European health platforms. The main aim is to develop a common dataset to support the reimbursement decision as well as to support technicians to have easy access to medical data.
- Digital technologies, intelligent data collection and integration are the present and the future for patient access to personalised, effective and safe treatments.
The leadership of the Romanian Digitisation Authority (ADR) gave details of the objectives of the RegInterMed project in its message to the expert meeting on 14 December. According to the ADR, in October the Ministry of Health put the specifications of the RegInterMed project out to public consultation.
- The project will implement 100 disease registers for 18 specialities. These will be established separately during the implementation period. In addition, 4 specific registers will be implemented for the INSP (Register “reporting biocidal substances”, Drinking water quality register (RECAP), National operational computerised register of occupational diseases, Register on the management of waste resulting from medical activity).
- It will have a working meeting on Wednesday 15 December with the new management delegated by the Ministry of Health for this project.
The European Commission is exploring the possibility of European patient registers, but the condition is that national registers exist in all EU countries
Cristian Bușoi MEP, Chair of the Industry and Research Committee of the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee, as the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the EU health programme, EU4Health, insisted that one of the priorities of this programme is digitisation in health at European level and the creation of the EU Health Data Space, which is an initiative of the European Commission that he supports.
- We also advocated that money from this programme should fund interoperability between different e-health systems at national level, such as electronic patient registers to be interconnected and prescription, which is an e-health solution found in most European countries and this needs to be interconnected.
- The European Commission is looking at the possibility of European patient registries, but the condition is that there should be national registries in all EU countries, at least for cancer and rare diseases where the number of patients is not so large, it would be easier to manage these patients. At European level, digitisation in health is an essential component. EU4Health can only give a general outline, just as the EU Health Data Space will create some rules for governance, for interoperability.
- Romania needs to prioritise these projects in order to be able to use European funding.
Romania has all the necessary tools to digitise its health system and to offer Romanian patients European and quality conditions in terms of health and telemedicine. It is essential that decision-makers and politicians have forward-looking projects adapted to European requirements so that Romanian patients can benefit from the opportunities of the digital transition.
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