Strengthening collaboration to improve cross-border health opportunities in the Danube–Kris–Mures–Tisa Euroregion

Euregio Meuse-Rhine

With the aim of strengthening cross-border cooperation and improving health opportunities in cross-border regions, the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion and the euPrevent | EMR Foundation organized a study tour in Szeged, Hungary, on 22–24 August 2018. Participants included health professionals from the Danube-Kris-Mures-Tisa (DKMT) Euroregion and representatives of the Meuse–Rhine Euregion, the euPrevent | EMR Foundation, the European Regional and Local Health Authorities Network (EUREGHA), the European Patients Empowerment for Customized Solution (EPECS), the Public Health Authority of South Limburg, and the WHO Regions for Health Network (RHN). The event provided an excellent platform for the exchange of good practice in and lessons learnt about cross-border cooperation on health.

Cross-border cooperation on health incorporates efforts to facilitate the mobility of patients and health professionals living and working in border regions, improve access to local care, and develop joint facilities and services. A patient should be allowed to attend the nearest hospital, even if it is in another country. Often, however, border populations have fewer health-care opportunities than those living in the rest of the country.

According to specific European Union (EU) directives, people covered by the health system of one EU Member State are entitled to receive health care in any other EU Member State at the expense of the health system of their own country, which either covers the costs incurred, or reimburses them to the patient. Often, agreements are drawn up between the countries to ensure that health-care rights are respected.

Both the Meuse–Rhine Euregion (comprising the Region of Aachen (Germany), the Province of Limburg (Netherlands), the Provinces of Limburg and Liège (Belgium), and the German-speaking Community of Belgium) and the DKMT Euroregion (where the borders of Hungary, Serbia and Romania cross each other at the gateway to the Balkans) have implemented numerous public health projects through the Interregional Cooperation across Europe Programme (INTERREG), which is co-funded by EU.

The programme included a workshop on the various relevant projects and initiatives being carried out by the DKMT Euroregion and a visit to the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI)-Alps, located within the University of Szeged’s science park. ELI-Alps is part of a large effort to develop cutting-edge laser technology across Europe.

Participants in the study tour also had the opportunity to speak with health professionals of the Paediatric and the Oncotherapy Departments at the University of Szeged. Here, they learned about the innovative international programmes in paediatric care and state-of-the-art radiology equipment for cancer treatment, which the two departments are running.