EPF perspective on universal access to healthcare


On 5 May EPF co-organised a roundtable with European Generics Association (EGA), Doctors of the World, and the International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM) on Universal Access to health. One year after the EU elections, we asked MEPs how to advance Universal access in the new EU political landscape.

While universal access is a well-recognised goal for all healthcare systems in the EU, this basic citizen right is not yet a reality for all patients in the EU. According to the World Health Organisation, universal health coverage depends essentially on three dimensions: Who in the population is covered, what services are covered, and the proportion of cost that is covered.[1] From our perspective there are gaps in all three dimensions currently in the EU.

Tackling discrimination

From EPF’s perspective, healthcare is not universal if a population is excluded from all or parts of healthcare services, or if the specific needs of a group are ignored. This is why we advocate for tackling discrimination in healthcare (link).

Access to holistic and integrated care services

Access to a wide range of healthcare services is essential to provide universal health coverage.  EPF will, in consultation with our members, adopt a definition of access to healthcare from the patients’ perspective in 2015. We believe a comprehensive definition will help better evaluate and address barriers patients are facing across Europe in seeking care.


Access means the availability of therapies and services, but also affordability. Cuts in health budgets, in insurance coverage, increased fees and co-payments, cuts in social protection measures have had negative impacts on patients over the last few years.  The setting up of a Commission Expert Group on Safe and Timely Access to Medicines for Patients shows that access is now higher on the Agenda. The Patient Access Partnership , initiated by EPF and our Bulgarian member organisation NPO also provides a key arena to share knowledge, monitor, and find solutions for access issues.

Patient involvement at individual level through shared decision-making, and at organisational level in policy and research is essential in ensuring patients have access to healthcare services and innovation that meet their needs.

Contact: Laurène Souchet, EPF Policy Officer, laurene.souchet@eu-patient.eu 

[1] World Health Organization 2013, The world health report 2013: research for universal health coverage.