Today (Thursday, 16 July 2020) Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly T.D. participated in a meeting of EU Health Ministers where he exchanged views with his European counterparts on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as on ways to ensure the supply of medicines in the EU.

Minister Donnelly said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to discuss the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic with other EU Ministers for Health, and with public health experts from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organisation. A strong, coordinated response to a pandemic, which has no respect for borders, is a challenge made for the EU. In every area where the EU has successfully acted together, the Union has had a greater impact – be that in regards to procurement of essential equipment, on vaccines, or in sharing learning on how to advance public health objectives.

We in Ireland welcomed the guidance, expert advice and assessments provided throughout the crisis by the ECDC, which informed our national response. The scale of the current public health emergency brings home to us the urgent need to base our decision-making on up-to-date scientific analysis and expert advice. The ECDC has played a valuable role in making these accessible to all Member States”.

Minister Donnelly went on to say: “On medicines, Ireland shares the view of the German Presidency that there is a need for a strategic approach to improve the quality, robustness and resilience of the pharmaceutical value chain. There may also be economic opportunities for Ireland given the strength of the pharmaceutical industry here.” The Minister also supported improvements in the processing of health data for research and public health.

This was the first informal meeting of EU Health Ministers, held via videoconference, since Germany took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU. The meeting was chaired by Jens Spahn, the German Federal Minister of Health. The European Commission was represented by Vice President, Margaritis Schinas and Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. Dr Hans Kluge, Regional Director, WHO Regional Office for Europe and officials from the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control also attended.

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