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New EU–World Health Organisation partnership: building more accessible, better quality and resilient long-term care systems

Picture of two puzzle pieces joined by two hands

EU and WHO will work together to help improve access to affordable high-quality long-term care.

On Wednesday 5th July 2023 the European Commission (EC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) publicly launched their partnership for long-term care with an online event.

The number of people in the EU in need of long-term care is projected to increase from 30.8 million in 2019 to 38.1 million in 2050. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of care systems, including inadequate long-term care services and poor integration with health-care delivery.

The EU and WHO’s partnership intends to help improve access to affordable high-quality long-term care in the EU Member States by systematising the knowledge base, developing (self)assessment and planning tools for long-term care policy, and supporting informal caregivers. The partnership is set to last until the end of 2024 and is part of a broader spectrum of programs relevant to long-term care delivery includingthe European Care Strategy launched in 2022, and the WHO 2020-2025 European Programme of Work. Overall, the new partnership will develop tools to support countries’ long-term care reform efforts and help to monitor progress towards improved service coverage, more affordable care and better coordination of health and long-term care services across people’s life-course. 

The two specific objectives and respective outputs of this partnership are:

  1. Strengthen long-term care systems and reforms by developing a self-assessment tool, the upcoming State of LTC instrument.
  2. Improve access to information and support tools for informal caregivers by making an open access online course, which will be available on the OpenWHO platform.

Opening the virtual launch event, Katarina Ivanković Knežević, Director for Social Rights and Inclusion, EC discussed how this partnership contributes to meeting the goals and objectives of the EU Care Strategy. Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, Director of the Division of Country Health Policies and Systems,WHO Regional Office for Europe presented the core features of the WHO European Programme of Work, namely integration, partnership and sustainable transformation. A roundtable discussion ensued, centred around possible ways to support long-term care reform and strengthen systems. The event concluded with an open discussion on the relevance of the partnership for national policy and reform processes and closing remarks by Satish Mishra from WHO Regional Office for Europe.

In the months to come, the partnership expects to organize a further technical meeting on the ‘State of LTC’ instrument. Its purpose is to guide reforms and technical support for care system reforms aligned to the policy objectives of the Council recommendation on LTC. A broad range of relevant stakeholders, including social services, will be involved in the self-assessment process, design and implementation.

Supporting Documents

For more information, please contact: Thomas Bignal, Head of Policy.