Self-care at the top of the Latvian Presidency’s health agenda – spotlight on children


On Linkedin …worth highlighting

 : Vice President Government Affairs Consumer Healthcare EMEA at GlaxoSmithKline

A few days after assuming its duties on 1 January, the Latvian government published its programme of priorities as Presidency of the Council of the European Union: Self-care is not only a prominent issue but is, in fact, the first of the Presidency’s health priorities for the semester.
Healthy lifestyles are defined as drivers towards “empowering individuals to take responsibility for their own health”. The Presidency explicitly states its support towards reducing obesity among children and adolescents and educating them to correct standards of well-being through healthier school meals, physical activity and the use of new technology.
Another priority is eHealth: “rapidly growing information technologies provide both opportunities that boost smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for the EU and challenges that need to be addressed in a timely manner”. Focus here is on empowering patients, cross-border exchange of health data, patient data protection and eHealth/mHealth technologies (see here for the differences between the two, and others

The Latvians are not the first to spot the potential of self-care and eHealth. Among the most prominent to advocate their use feature the Commission, with the eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 (, and the WHO’s Global Action Plan and actions to prevent and manage NCDs ( Key players will come together or two landmark events hosted by this Presidency: the February 2015 High Level Conference on Healthy Lifestyles ( and the topical eHealth Week, which will take place in Riga in May 2015 (

The most interesting point in my opinion in the Presidency’s priorities is the decision to approach self-care from the children’s perspective. Such an approach is surely well justified – today’s children will have longer life-spans, which is one of the key reasons why boosting self-care is so important (you can find out more about the potential benefits of self-care on EU healthcare here: And we can’t stress enough the importance of education, schooling and sports in forming healthy citizens.

However, it is important to take the discussion one step further: should we not also look at the broader context of boosting self-care more generally from people empowerement’s perspective. By focusing our attention on single interventions, do we not risk underestimating the importance that parents and adults have as role model?

On a final note, if anyone is planning to attend any of the Riga events, feel free to drop me a line – I would be very interested in sharing materials and opinions.