Taken together, the EU's member states constitute the world's largest aid donor to the low and middle-income countries, and the largest trade zone. This puts the EU in a unique position to contribute to better global health. But first, its member states must decide on their goals and how they can work together to achieve them.
European scientists and decision-makers are meeting today in Stockholm to strengthen the role of the EU in the promotion of public health around the world. This is important in light of Europe being the world's largest aid donor and trade zone, and because the area possesses many excellent research centres in health as well as advanced healthcare systems and democratic institutions able to serve as models for other countries to imitate.
Professor Göran Tomson at Karolinska Institutet points out that despite the EU's profound impact on human health, it lacks a clear and common strategy for promoting health and preventing disease globally.
Over the past few years, the EU president countries have raised issues of global health onto the political agenda, and this includes Sweden.
"Sweden must become an even more active EU member state, combining bilateral, regional and global Swedish programmes with programmes within the EU," says Anders Nordström, Director General of Sida and one of the participants at the seminar.
The seminar was arranged by Karolinska Institutet's Public and International Health network, the Swedish EU presidency and the Global Health Europe network. The opening speakers are Maria Larsson MP, Minister for Elderly Care and Public Health, and former MEP Anders Wijkman, the seminar's moderator. Other contributors include Otto Cars, professor of infectious diseases and a leading player in the control of antibiotic resistance, and Elisabet Lindgren, senior advisor on climate change and health.