Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-05-13-Speech-2-132"

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"Mr President, Minister, members of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, on 7 April last, we addressed the issue of the SARS crisis in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, a matter which concerned more or less all the Member States and other countries as well. I must point out that the proposals advanced to the Commission by the UEN Group on that occasion have almost all been adopted by some of the Member States, including Italy. In the same speech, I warned that the virus could be transmitted via goods and animals from infected countries which were not yet known to be carrying the infection. After that difficult period of heated discussion between optimistic and pessimistic viewpoints on the possibility and necessity of stopping the spread of the virus, the European countries are now paying more heed to the issue, and more preventive measures are being taken too, but the time has come to concern ourselves with another factor. The problem which is gradually emerging in many Member States is that of public healthcare – are there enough staff, resources and facilities available to assist SARS patients? It is time to ask ourselves whether each Member State has these resources and appropriate centres for treating virulent infectious diseases such as SARS; if they do not, then all the measures taken to delay its arrival in Europe will be in vain. Today, I would add, the issues which need to be addressed most urgently are these: the lack, not to say complete absence, of negative pressure isolation rooms, necessary to prevent nosocomial infection, in the principal hospitals of the States of the European Union; the impossibility of quarantining a patient highly likely to have the disease but who refuses to be placed in isolation, due to the fact that there are no laws imposing enforced hospitalisation except on grounds of mental health; we need to start thinking about training, setting up specialised healthcare teams in the individual states to treat patients with diseases such as SARS, who cannot be given specific treatment but only adjunct treatment and who require input from a wide range of specialists – lung specialists, virologists, anaesthetists, resuscitation specialists, internists, dieticians – and nursing staff capable of managing and caring for patients suffering from SARS. I would like to invite you to consider this viral disease as proof for Europe of the possibility of the transmission of diseases which are currently unknown to us or which we have stamped out in the past but which globalisation could bring back to Europe, as I said in my speech on 14 November 2001. The European Parliament and, in this case, the Commission – which I am addressing here – must learn from this experience and recognise the crucial role played by public health services."@en1

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