Health Policy

European Health Committee  (CDSP)

The Committee of Ministers set up the European Health Committee in 1954 to encourage closer European co-operation on the promotion of health. Its idealist aim was to create conditions which would safeguard and improve the health of European citizens.

The CDSP bases its strategy on an integrated approach of medical developments on the one hand and values of the individual (legal, ethical, social) on the other. Its activities are aimed at the democratisation and humanisation of health services. The CDSP contributes to the implementation of the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government (Warsaw) which considers the protection of health as a social human right and an essential condition for social cohesion and economic stability.

Recommendations are approved by the CDSP on the basis of work carried out by expert committees for the Committee of Ministers (decision-making body of the Council of Europe) to adopt. These policy guidelines are not binding in a strict legal sense but can serve as a vehicle for change in member states.

Past activities governed by the CDSP include work on organ transplantation and blood transfusion which are now in the domain of the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and HealthCare. Many thematic areas have been covered by past expert committees, including in good governance, health policy development and promotion, mental health, palliative care, the patients' role and vulnerable groups.
Membership of the CDSP

The members of the CDSP are appointed by the governments of all the member states, and are senior public health officials or specialists in the field.

The CDSP elects ten members to sit on the Bureau for a term of office of two years. The chairperson is elected by the plenary committee from amongst the Bureau members for one year, renewable once.

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the European Commission and the European Council may each be represented in meetings without the right to vote. Other states and organisations who have been granted observer status by the Committee of Ministers may be invited to send representatives as observers without voting rights. Canada, the Holy See, Japan, Mexico, the United States of America, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have observer status.

Terms of reference of the CDSP

The CDSP is instructed to:

i. contribute to the strengthening of social cohesion by promoting equitable access to health care services, including prevention, that are safe and of appropriate quality;

ii. promote improved functioning of health care services that are patient-oriented and at the same time are respectful of the democratic, ethical and human rights dimensions of the provision of health care, taking into account a comprehensive health and human rights approach;

iii. promote patients rights, citizen participation and protection for vulnerable persons;

iv. develop European co-operation between member states on the promotion of human rights and enhancing health of European populations in its various aspects, in particular in the light of the replies given by the Committee of Ministers to relevant recommendations adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly and the work of the Ministerial conferences, through joint studies on common problems, sharing of information, knowledge and expertise and, where appropriate, by recommendations, and other instruments (such as reference tools, implementation guides);

v. review, in co-operation with the relevant committees of the Council of Europe, ethical and regulatory issues arising in the area of health policy, in particular the identification of policies, benchmarks, and good practice examples for patient-oriented care, with a view to improving policy and practice in the member states through reports, seminars, conferences and targeted dissemination and assistance activities;

vi. prepare, on the basis of an analysis of good practice, recommendations and other instruments (reference tools, implementation guides) offering member states innovative and practical advice in the fields concerning equity of access to care of appropriate quality and services which meet the needs of the population of member states;

vii. ensure dissemination of recommendations and other outcomes and undertake evaluations of their impact in member states, and in this context assist member states in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of selected recommendations;

viii. contribute to the preparation of the Council of Europe Conferences of Health Ministers and ensure the follow-up thereto, having regard to the relevant decisions of the Committee of Ministers;

ix. co-operate actively with other relevant international bodies, particularly the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as with the European Union;

x. work with and support the activities of Council of Europe bodies dealing with health issues, notably the Parliamentary Assembly and the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, in compliance with the terms of reference given by the Committee of Ministers and within the framework of the Strategic Approach to the (public) health and related activities;

xi. while taking account of the progress of this work, prepare proposals under its responsibility for the Programme of Activities for the coming years, bearing in mind the criteria set out in document CM(2006)101 final.