The European Union (EU) will invest over five billion euros ($5.9 billion) in the EU Health Program, the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council.

Portuguese Minister of Health Marta Temido said at a virtual conference on Thursday that the measure highlights the need to reinforce the strategy to combat the Covid-19 pandemic at national and European levels, reports Xinhua news agency.

She said that “health diplomacy is not an option” for the member states but a “shared necessity”.

“Global health challenges transcend borders and the classic north/south or east/west divisions, exposing the limitations of segmented approaches,” she said.

Temido emphasised that “this is the time to act together and seek to reinforce the strength and influence of the European Union in health” with “more inclusive, comprehensive and coordinated strategies to face the new challenges” and with “global solidarity”.

“No state is safe until everyone is safe,” she said.

“The EU has been and will remain committed.”

In his brief address, Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa acknowledged that “there was a lot of selfishness and isolationism in the fight against the pandemic”.

Accordingly, a “closer alignment of the policies of the member states” is extremely necessary, he said.

“During the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, we will have the opportunity to focus on the essential role of the Union in the area of health, thinking about this pandemic, but thinking mainly about the future,” he said.

The conference, which has attracted over 30 speakers, aimed to reinforce the EU’s role in improving global health.

–IANS

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