EU Global Health Strategy needs to be more than just a slogan

Published: 30th November 2022

Today, the European Commission published its EU Global Health Strategy. This document sets out the EU’s global vision for funding and international cooperation in relation to health.

In response, Oxfam EU’s Health Expert, Piotr Kolczynski said:

“We have seen the EU, again and again, put Big Pharma and trade interests above people’s health. Now, this new EU Global Health Strategy is an opportunity to set the EU on the right course and bring us closer to a world where everyone has access to healthcare and treatment. But to do so, it needs to be more than just a slogan.

“The EU must empower countries to set up publicly financed and delivered health care that works and support their governments’ efforts to foster medical research and development. In particular, the EU must stop blocking countries from making their own medicines and treatments and always put patients before profit. This is key to stopping aid dependency.

“While Europeans have the fourth Covid-19 booster at their disposal, only a quarter of people in African countries have been fully vaccinated. In the past, European countries chose trade over people’s lives. They not only hoarded vaccines but also blocked proposals to ease intellectual property rights on vaccines, treatments and tests. The result? A slower rollout of lifesaving drugs, higher prices and more deaths. This health strategy must break the status quo.

“Health policies cannot be hampered by EU trade interests.”

Notes to editors

Piotr Kolczynski is available for comment and interview.   

The EU’s Global Health Strategy focuses on strengthening health systems, tackling health inequalities, and advancing universal health coverage. It is focused on strengthening strategic partnerships with other regions and ensuring effective financing. 

The process so far: In May 2022, EU Commissioners Urpilainen and Kyriakides launched an update to the EU’s external health policies – the 2010 EU’s global health strategy. The strategy development process included consultations with various stakeholders such as pharmaceutical companies, NGOs etc.  

Oxfam is a part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance which works to vaccinate the world and end the pandemic everywhere. Earlier this year, the Alliance warned that the EU was set to bin 25 million more vaccine doses than it has donated to Africa this year. This month, the Alliance warned that just a quarter of Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment orders will go to poorer countries. 

25 percent of people in Africa have been fully vaccinated.  

Next steps: the Council, made up of EU countries, will publish their conclusions on the strategy in the first half of 2023.  

Contact information

Jade Tenwick | Brussels, Belgium | | mobile +32 473 562260 

Julia Manresa | Brussels, Belgium |  | mobile +32 473 87 44 26