The Western Hungarian city of Szombathely is one of the first localities to back the European Commission’s plan to create a European Health Union. This came to light during a recent online conference organised by Budapest’s Institute for Social Democracy and the Brussels-based Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) to discuss the plan’s ramifications for Hungary, writes Hungary Today.
The conference was attended by Szombathely Mayor Dr. András Nemény (Doctor of Law, not of Medicine) and MEP István Ujhelyi, both of whom are members of the opposition Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP).
EUR 5 billion for healthcare programmes
The Covid-19 outbreak found the healthcare systems of most EU countries woefully unprepared for a pandemic of such scale and speed of transmission. There was no unified approach to handle the crisis and member states were largely left to fend for themselves following belated and often contradictory WHO guidelines. This could not but ring alarm bells in Brussels.
EU’s next multiannual budget allocates more than EUR 5 billion towards healthcare programmes. Most of these funds, according to Ujhelyi, should be spent directly on local council schemes. The European Health Union should also cover the development of the health industry, he said during the online event, pointing to Szombathely as a leader in this area.
Szombathely’s exemplary healthcare model
Taking the podium, Dr. András Nemény pointed out that his city has developed a unique career model for its GPs, plans to channel EU funds into the construction of a new health centre that will include 15 clinics and is about to inaugurate a new central medical emergency service.
Speaking during the conference, Mihály Kökény, Hungary’s former health minister and the country’s head of research on the European Health Union plan, said that Szombathely’s healthcare model would be “exemplary” when the EU scheme reaches implementation stage. Conference participants concurred that the European Health Union would bring about shorter waiting lists, fewer hospital infections and deaths, and higher wages for medical and other healthcare staff.