Luxembourg’s ageing population coupled with high retirement rates among existing medical staff over the next 15 years, and a reliance on cross-border workers, leave the grand duchy’s health system vulnerable, says a report by the Council of the European Union.
The European Semester, which provides a framework for the coordination of economic policies across the EU, has concluded that the grand duchy needs to keep a close eye on developments in its health care sector.
A Council of the European Union report, published on 20 May, on the measures adopted by the Luxembourg government during the current pandemic crisis has concluded that the grand duchy’s health system should be wary of its reliance on cross-border staff.
“Luxembourg has one of the best performing health systems in the EU. Nevertheless, 49% of doctors and 62% of health workers are non-Luxemburg professionals. The system is well above the [WHO indicator] critical vulnerability threshold,” says the report.
Luxembourg’s health system could be affected by unilateral decisions that could be taken by neighbouring countries in times of crisis. “In record time, Luxembourg had to adopt short-term measures to improve the resilience of its health care system following the covid-19 crisis, for example, by mobilising medical infrastructure and installing a temporary extension of a hospital, and by offering housing in Luxembourg for frontier workers and their families,” the report states.
And the authors suggest that the situation could deteriorate further. “More specifically, demand for health care from an ageing population is expected to increase, and between 59% and 69% of current medical staff are expected to retire over the next 15 years.”
However, the report lauds the advanced state of the deployment of digital infrastructure in Luxembourg--efforts such as online health solutions, and the digital reimbursement of service providers--the text says.
“Luxembourg has put a strong emphasis on digital technologies, such as high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data, and has the potential to take advantage of these capabilities and cooperate at Union level to make a major contribution to research aimed at neutralising the virus and reducing infections,” the report states.
It also highlights Luxembourg’s efforts in setting up a new support scheme for investment projects in research and development for the production of products in the fight against covid-19, “which are needed to efficiently combat the current epidemic through the development of effective treatments and vaccines.”