Bulgaria’s Health Minister Kiril Ananiev took part in an extraordinary meeting of the EU Health Ministers Council. The meeting was held in Brussels, Belgium and was attended by all Member States, 20 of which were represented at ministerial level, the Ministry of Health announced on February 13.
During the first session, the Ministers held a discussion based on questions previously prepared by the Croatian Presidency on the new coronavirus. Most delegations noted the high level of coordination within the European Union, giving positive assessments of the work of the Committee on Health and the European Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There was also general satisfaction with the optimal functioning of the European Civil Protection Mechanism. The benefits of cooperation at European and international level were also highlighted, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
"The outbreak of the new coronavirus is a challenge for health systems worldwide. Such events inevitably provoke anxiety. At the same time, they are a demonstration of the benefits of cooperation and coordination mechanisms in place in the European Union.,” Health Minister Kiril Ananiev highlighted in his speech during the Council.
The measures taken at national level are part of an effective system providing transparency, awareness and mobilisation. This system contributes to managing the situation across the EU. We are convinced that one of the purposes of today's Council of Health Ministers should be precisely to reassure citizens of the European Union. Correct, responsible and accurate communication to the public of the Member States is crucial in such moments, the minister added.
In his speech, Kiril Ananiev said that at national level, Bulgaria has implemented effective measures that are in line with the recommendations of WHO and ECDC.
"Interagency coordination has been established to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, incl. coordination with border control services. There is coordination and orderly organisation at all levels of the public health system and between all key healthcare facilities. A system for mandatory registration and collection of information has been put in place. Anyone suspected of having a new coronavirus is required to be hospitalised and isolated in hospital. Effective measures have been taken to inform the public. A hotline has been opened where members of the public can ask questions about the epidemic and get competent advice from an epidemiologist," the Bulgarian health minister said.
The measures presented by Minister Ananiev were highly appreciated by his couterparts from other Member States in the framework of the bilateral meetings held after the forum.
During the meeting, delegations noted that a shortage of personal protective clothing in the European Union was a potential problem. Individual countries expressed the hope that the European Commission, through joint tenders, could help Member States in the event of shortage. An appeal was made to develop a common European-funded vaccine that could be used if the coronavirus mutated in seasonal influenza. The need for a thorough analysis of the EU's dependence on third countries for medicinal products and medical devices was also highlighted.
It was generally agreed that future coordination of health requirements at border checkpoints was very important. A key role in finding sustainable solutions to possible future problems is the exchange of information between MS on the measures taken and best practices.