23RD WONCA Europe Conference

Andrzej Rys

Director for Health Systems, Medical Products and Innovation, DG Health and Food Safety, European Commission.


Strengthening primary care at EU level

Strong primary care can contribute to strengthening the overall health system’s performance by, inter alia, providing affordable and accessible care; coordinating care for patients; and reducing avoidable hospital admissions. All health care systems in the EU face common challenges like demographic change, shift in morbidity and mortality from communicable to chronic diseases, technical and medical development etc. This means that there is a need and potential to improve primary care not only in every Member State individually but at the EU level as well.

The EU initiatives aiming and better functioning of primary care include:

  • the report on assessing primary care functioning done by the Health Systems Performance Assessment Expert Group;
  • opinions on primary care prepared by the Expert Panel on Investing in Health;
  • State of Health in the EU cycle –primary care is the topic of one of chapters of the Companion Report; primary care constitutes part of analyses of Member States' health care systems in the Country Profiles;
  • financial support by European Structural and Investment Funds – e.g. co-ordination of primary care in Poland;
  • financial support by the European Fund for Strategic Investment – e.g. development of primary care centres in Ireland;


Andrzej Rys, medical doctor specialized in radiology and public health, graduate of Jagiellonian University, Krakow (Poland), is the current Director responsible for health systems, medical products and innovation at the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety in the European Commission. He is member of Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) Governing Board and alternate member of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Board.

Until 2011, Andrzej was Director for health systems and products at the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety and until 2006 Director for public health and risk assessment at the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers in the European Commission.

Andrzej was founder and Director of the Center for Innovation and Technology Transfer and of the School of Public Health at Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland). From 1999 to 2002 he was Deputy Minister of Health in Poland and member of the Polish accession negotiators team.


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