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Between 2003 and 2008 the programme will spend over €312 million on actions to protect and improve the health of Europe's citizens. Commissioner Byrne said the launch marked "the EU shifting up a gear in its health policy". The three key priorities of the programme are: improving health information and knowledge, ensuring rapid reaction to health threats, and addressing health determinants. A detailed work plan for actions in these areas in 2003 has been agreed and the European Commission is inviting governmental bodies, academic institutes and European NGOs to send it proposals for projects by 16 May.
The new programme puts into practice the integrated approach to public health advocated in the European Commission's May 2000 Communication on Health Strategy. It replaces a series of eight EU programmes that each focused on individual health issues: cancer, AIDS and other communicable diseases, rare diseases, pollution related diseases, injury prevention, health monitoring, health promotion and drug abuse. The old "issue specific" approach led to a fragmentation of effort and could not easily be adapted to respond to emerging health threats.
Priority actions in 2003 include projects on tobacco control, nutrition and physical activity, alcohol and young people, and health and environment policies (with particular reference to children).
MEDICA.de, Source: European Commission