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European Commission
On 2 July 2019, Ursula von der Leyen was nominated by the European Council to the position of President of the European Commission; she will be the first women and the first German since Walter Hallstein
Equal opportunities and access to the labour market
1. Education, training and life-long learning Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market. 2. Gender equality Equality of treatment and opportunities between women and men must be ensured and fostered in all areas, including regarding participation in the labour market, terms and conditions of employment and career progression. Women and men have the right to equal pay for work of equal value.
The gender pay gap in the EU and the European Pillar of #SocialRights
1. The gender pay gap in the EU is 16.2%, that’s 16.2% higher than it should be! Gender equality is the second key principle of the European Pillar of #SocialRights for a reason 2. The European Pillar of #SocialRights supports the right to equal treatment and opportunities regarding employment, social protection, education, and access to goods and services available to the public. Something NCW Malta has supported since its creation!
Gender Equality in the Media Sector
This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. It examines key elements of the European policy agenda pertaining to gender equality in the media sector. It also reviews existing research on women's representation within media content and the media workforce. The study provides analysis of actions to promote gender equality in the media at both EU and Member State levels. Finally, it presents case studies of gender equality in the media sector in four Member States: Austria, Malta, Sweden, and the UK.
Empowering women and girls in media and ICT
On the occasion of the International Women's Day, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is holding an inter-parliamentary committee meeting on empowering women and girls in media and ICT. The meeting, which will bring together EU institutional representatives, members of EU national parliaments, experts and stakeholders, will take place on 08 March 2018. The presentation and debates will deal with the topics of women shaping media, empowering women and girls through digital inclusion and women’s movements and advancing equality in the digital age.
Digital healthcare / health insurance
In the view of the EESC, given the digital revolution in the field of health, it is vital to maintain and promote a health insurance system which serves the needs of everyone, and is solidarity-based, inclusive and non-discriminatory. Inclusion and fair access for all to good quality health services (digital or otherwise) and commitment to these are in fact prerequisites for universal health coverage.
Gender equality in European labour markets
In order to improve gender equality in labour markets, the EESC considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to adequate policies, measures and EU funding programmes for improving equality between women and men, thus fostering "more equal economic independence of women and men" . This would also contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Services to the family
Developing services in private homes in order to achieve a better work-life balance Every family has a home and clothes to maintain, meals to prepare, children to care for, elderly parents or ill or disabled family members who need help. Women often have to work part-time in order to carry out these tasks, missing out on the career for which they have trained or on time they would use for training.
Women and girls digital gender gap
This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee, attempts to reveal the links between the different factors (access, skills, socio-economic and cultural), which prevent women from having equal access to digital technology. It then suggests ways of dealing with online and offline inequalities to the effect of closing the digital gender gap and improving women’s and girls’ digital inclusion and future technology-related career paths.
Plastics, human health and environmental impacts: The road ahead
Plastics have been with us for more than a century, and by now they’re everywhere, for good and for ill. Plastic containers and coatings help keep food fresh, but they can also leave behind neurotoxins such as BPA in the human body. PVC is used for everything from pipes and flooring to furniture and clothes, but it contains compounds called phthalates that have been implicated in male reproductive disorders. Studies have also shown that childhood exposure to environmental pollutants can have significant negative effects later in life, including reduced labor force participation and even earnings.
European Commission aims to significantly reduce the gender pay gap
The European Commission plans to use a series of measures aimed at significantly reducing the pay gap between men and women over the next five years. The average gender pay gap in the EU currently stands at 18%. To lower this rate, the Commission plans to raise awareness among employers, encourage initiatives to promote gender equality and support the development of tools to measure the gender pay gap.
NCW Annual General Meeting 2019
NCW Annual General Meeting 2019 The Annual General Meeting of the National Council of Women was held on Saturday 26th January 2019, at The Victoria Hotel, Sliema. President Mary Gaerty spoke about the work which the Council has embarked on during 2018. This included pensions, education, violence against women, work and entrepreneurship, work life balance and the challenges faced by women on a daily basis. She also highlighted the fact that the National Council of Women is looking ahead at the constant changes
Work-life Balance
Better work-life balance for EU citizens: Presidency reaches provisional agreement with the European Parliament
The National Council of Women supports the Act to provide protection for human embryos
NCW has always advocated for legislation of alternative IVF treatment not least because of the sensitivity and the consequences for both parents and society if it had to remain unregulated. NCW believes that IVF treatment should be for heterosexuals within a stable family environment The Council has always supported the protection of embryos as the first cell of a human life and, with the development of alternative treatment over the past years this has become possible successfully.
Women on Boards: Vice-President Viviane Reding meets with leaders of Europe's business schools and i
Today, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding met with European Industry Associations, European Business Schools and Senior Executive Women to discuss progress being made on improving the gender balance in company boardrooms.
UfM adopts new project to support women’s empowerment in the Mediterranean
A project aimed at developing women’s empowerment in the Mediterranean through the development of effective field projects and the setting up of networks and platforms, was adopted by Senior Officials of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) at a meeting held last month.

PATIENTS’ RIGHTS IN EUROPE: A CITIZENS’ REPORT
MONITORING THE EUROPEAN CHARTER OF PATIENTS’ RIGHTS

The conference was held on 28th February and 1st March 2005 at the European Parliament in Brussels and was attended by 150 participants who were policy makers, doctors and representatives of patients’ rights groups from several European countries such as Italy, UK, Poland, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, etc. NCW Malta was represented by Vice-President Doreen Micallef, Health Committee co-ordinator
In 2002, Active Citizenship Network (ACN) together with national-based civic organizations from around Europe produced a European Charter of Patients’ Rights, setting forth 14 rights to be respected by health care providers. The rationale for the charter is that, despite national differences, the same rights related to health are at risk in EU countries. These rights are based on the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is now part of the European Constitution and establishes the right to a high level of protection for health and other rights related to health care. In September 2003, the Charter was presented in a meeting of the Ministries of Health throughout Europe.
For these reasons, ACN and civic organizations from the 15 old Member States of the EU decided to monitor the concrete inplementation of these 14 rights in order to provide a more accurate picture of the actual conditions regarding citizens’ access to healthcare.
The 14 rights are the following:

1. Right to preventive measures – every individual has the right to a proper service in order to prevent illness.

2. Right to access – every individual has the right of access to the health services that his/her health needs require. The health services must guarantee equal access to everyone, without discriminating on the basis of financial resources, place of residence, kind of illness or time of access to services.

3. Right to information – every individual has the right to access to all information regarding their state of health, the health services and how to use them, and all that scientific research and technological innovation makes available.

4. Right to consent – every individual has the right to access to all information that might enable him or her to actively participate in the decisions regarding his/her health; this information is a prerequisite for any procedure and treatment, including the participation in scientific research.

5. Right to free choice – each individual has the right to freely choose from among different treatment procedures and providers on the basis of adequate information.

6. Right to privacy and confidentiality – every individual has the right to the confidentiality of personal information, including information regarding his/her state of health and potential diagnostic or therapeutic procedures, as well as the protection of his/her privacy during the performance of diagnostic exams, specialist visits and medical/surgical treatments in general.

7. Right to respect of patients’ time – each individual has the right to receive necessary treatment within a swift and predetermined period of time. This right applies at each phase of the treatment.

8. Right to the observance of quality standards – each individual has the right of access to high quality health services on the basis of the specification and observance of precise standards.

9. Right to safety – each individual has the right to be free from harm caused by the poor functioning of health services, medical malpractice and errors, and the right of access to health services and treatments that meet high safety standards.

10. Right to innovation – each individual has the right of access to innovative procedures, including diagnostic procedures, according to international standards and independently of economic or financial considerations.

11. Right to avoid unnecessary suffering and pain – each individual has the right to avoid as much suffering and pain as possible, in each phase of his/her illness.

12. Right to personalized treatment – each individual has the right to diagnostic or therapeutic programmes tailored as much as possible to his/her personal needs.

13. Right to complain – each individual has the right to complain whenever s/he suffered a harm and the right to receive a response or other feedback.

14. Right to compensation – each individual has the right to receive sufficient compensation within a reasonably short time whenever s/he has suffered physical or moral and psychological harm caused by a health service treatment.

Despite their differences, national health systems in EU countries place the same rights of patients, consumers, users, family members, weak populations and ordinary people at risk. Despite solemn declarations on the ‘European Social Model’ (the right to universal access to health care), several constraints call the reality of this right into question.
The Nice Charter of Fundamental Rights will soon be part of the new European constitution. It is the basis of the declaration of the 14 concrete patients’ rights currently at risk. These rights are also linked to several international declarations and recommendations, issued by both the WHO and the Council of Europe. They regard organizational standards and technical parameters, as well as professional patterns and behaviour.
Each of the national health systems of the EU countries manifests quite different realities with respect to patients’ rights. Some systems may have patients’ rights charters, specific laws, administrative regulations, charters of services, bodies such as ombudspersons, procedures like alternative dispute resolutions, etc. Others may have none of these. The present Charter can reinforce the degree of protection of patients’/citizens’ rights in the different national contexts and can be a tool for the harmonization of national health systems that favours citizens’ and patients’ rights. This is of utmost importance, especially because of the freedom of movement within the EU and the enlargement process.
The implementation of the Charter shall be primarily entrusted to those active citizenship organizations working on patients’ rights at national level. It will also require the commitment of health care professionals, as well as managers, governments, legislatures and administrative bodies.

Survey to monitor the concrete implementation of the 14 rights

The survey was conducted in 13 out of the 15 ‘old’ EU member countries (no data was collected in Belgium and Luxembourg). The survey consisted in defining a set of some 160 indicators relating to the 14 patients’ rights. On this occasion, Civic Audit tools were applied. The survey was carried out in cooperation with 13 national-based citizens’ organizations; about 70 key persons were interviewed and 39 hospitals visited.
The main phenomena emerging from the analysis of the indicators of patients’ rights are the following:
1. The involvement of hospitals in primary and secondary prevention activities is in general very low. The availability of materials on prevention is very limited in most of the hospitals observed in 10 out of 13 countries.
2. In a of the countries the existence of groups of people not covered by national health services or confronting obstacles limiting their access to adequate care was reported. A satisfactory widespread availability of facilities for public access to hospitals emerged in 11 countries; accessibility for persons with disabilities that are clearly marked was reported only in 8 countries.
3. In most of the countries’ hospitals the existence of tools for the information of patients and users were reported (telephone numbers, information office, etc.). However, material regarding critical topics (waiting lists, complaints received, patients’ satisfaction, etc.) is the least diffused. Areas reserved to patients’ and citizens’ associations inside hospitals have been reported only in 6 out of 13 countries.
4. Standardised forms for gathering consent are widely diffused but are used more for scientific research rather than for invasive diagnostic exams and surgical operations.
5. Some limitations to citizens’ choices emerged in the majority of the 13 countries, e.g. need to get authorization for some treatments; different fees in public and private hospitals, etc.
6. The survey reported a limited number of single rooms available for terminal patients in hospitals but examination rooms with dividers or curtains are quite widespread. Also in 7 out of 13 countries, situations when medical information was disclosed to non-authorised persons were reported.
7. There is a widespread phenomenon of freezing waiting lists for 1 or more exams, which represents a hidden form of restricting the access to health care. Moreover, there does not exist an established time limit to receive diagnostic exams or therapeutic treatment from the time it was prescribed by the hospital doctor.
8. The most widespread form of quality assessment is studies on customer satisfaction which are the least complex way to improve and check quality.
9. A fairly structured practice aimed at reducing the risk of adverse events has emerged in the majority of countries. Nevertheless, cases of violation of the right to safety in the last year have been reported in 8 countries. In only 1 country, special evacuation procedures for wheelchair routes were observed; evacuation maps were observed in hospitals of only 6 countries.
10. While in some central and big structures innovative technologies are currently used, in the rest of the country the level of their diffusion is definitely low. Delays in introducing innovative treatments and in medical research were reported in several cases.
11. In about half of the countries surveyed, cases of violation of the right to avoid unnecessary suffering were reported, e.g. lack of administering painkillers or morphine even when international standards recommended their use.
12. In only half of the countries there emerged a widespread and structured engagement in delivering health treatments according to different individual, social and cultural needs.
13. In all 13 countries there exists a structured procedure aimed at receiving and processing citizens’ complaints. In 12 countries there were reported cases of taking too long a time to respond to citizens’ complaints, while in 2 countries a complete lack of response to citizens’ complaints was reported.
14. In almost all of the countries there are insurances covering the compensation for possible damages to patients. However, they do not always cover both provider and doctor but usually just one of the two. In 2 countries hospitals and doctors do not have any insurance.

Policy priorities

On the basis of the results of the survey, the following 7 priorities have been identified:

1. Patients’ rights must become a common point of view and a standard for making decisions on health care.
2. Existing data and information on health care at the European level should be enriched with that regarding patients’ rights.
3. A European agenda on patients’ rights should be set up and implemented with an appropriate plan of action.
4. The practice of the ‘Rights of Active Citizenship’ stated in the European Charter of Patients’ Rights should be supported and guaranteed in the whole EU.
5. The financing of health structures by governments and other payers must be conditional to the success of these structures in protecting patients’ rights.
6. Firm action towards the changing of cultural, professional and organizational models in health care must be taken.
7. A patients’ right-based approach is needed to deal with the new trends and emerging situations that are going to characterize the European health care scenario.

 
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