Poverty generates ill health, and poor health, in turn, increases vulnerability and poverty. The growing burden of non-communicable diseases increasingly also affects the poor. However, reducing the burden of infectious diseases remains essential and a prerequisite to reduce malnutrition. Controlling diseases is also a key element for economic growth. Therefore, the EU is strongly committed to increasing equitable access to quality health services in developing countries, whilst ensuring social protection against the financial risks of disease, strengthening social inclusion and boosting global health.
In line with its Communication on ‘The EU Role in Global Health’, the EU pursues a rights-based approach to health and provides support to developing countries to develop their health policies. Support is also given to strengthen health systems and ensure that health is appropriately considered in other policies, in order to reduce inequalities in health and in access to healthcare, to improve the quality of care, to provide more comprehensive services and to protect against the financial risks of excessive health costs – also ensuring that women’s health concerns are appropriately considered.
While the EU is a major supporter of global health initiatives – such as the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and the GAVI Alliance for Immunisations – and of the specialised UN organisations – such as the World Health Organization – the main focus of the EU’s assistance in the health sector is to provide support directly to partner countries and support countries’ own efforts to achieve universal health coverage.
In the Communication ‘An Agenda for Change’ on EU development policy, the EU confirms its commitment to health by announcing that at least 20 % of its 2014-20 aid budget will be allocated for human development and social inclusion, including health. Furthermore, the 2013 Communication on the post-2015 global development goals sets out the EU’s intention to provide a balanced approach to poverty eradication and sustainable development, ensuring basic living standards, including health, for all.