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  • The growing scarcity of doctors and nurses across Europe is set to continue, adding pressure on already stretched care delivery systems
  • 1.2 billion cases of minor ailments are currently self-managed in Europe. Without this, 120,000 more physicians would be needed1

10 March 2023: Self-care remains an underpromoted and underutilised force within healthcare systems, according to research set out in a new white paper Redefining the role of self-care in Europe published by life sciences and healthcare consultancy Vintura. The paper, which was commission by Haleon, a global leader in consumer health, notes that self-care can have many health benefits if implemented widely.

A roundtable discussing the full findings of the research took place on 9 March at the European Parliament in Brussels. The meeting was hosted by Member of European Parliament (MEP) Stelios Kympouropoulos (European People’s Party, Greece) and attending experts that participated included:

  • Kristine Sorensen, Founding Director, Global Health Literacy Academy
  • Ema Paulino, President of Portuguese National Pharmacy Association
  • Prof. Lieven Annemans, Health Economics Professor, Ghent University
  • Prof. Stephan Van den Broucke, Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium.
  • Filippo Lanzi, President EMEA & LatAm, Haleon

According to the World Health Organisation, self-care can be defined as: “The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.”2

Some of today’s key healthcare challenges across Europe include:

  • An ageing population: Some 30% of the European population will be aged 65 or older by 20503 , and within this age group, 37% will have at least two chronic conditions4
  • A shortfall of primary care providers: Europe currently has a shortfall of 50,000 doctors5
  • Rising prices of treatments
  • The legacy of Covid-19 causing significant backlogs among the patient population

According to the paper, many of these challenges can be eased affordably and effectively by ramping up an individually-centred approach to personal health that puts access to pharmacists and an increase in health education at its centre.

Filippo Lanzi, President, EMEA & LatAm, Haleon, said: The widespread adoption of self-care faces significant challenges, including low levels of health education across Europe. For example, 80% of Europeans accept that it is their responsibility to manage their own health, and are willing to, however only 20% feel very confident in doing so6. At Haleon, we believe that pharmacists are ideally placed to champion widespread self-care practice in the community as they already play a key advisory role in people’s everyday health and wellbeing. We must all do more to help them. I look forward to seeing how we can collectively take the next step up in self-care discussions, to everyone’s benefit.”

Ema Paulino, Portuguese National Pharmacy Association, and contributor to the white paper said: “Community Pharmacists are essential healthcare professionals that patients can access readily to look after the everyday health of themselves and their loved ones. Through effective patient health education, pharmacists can show the value of self-care in managing minor ailments, which otherwise could result in additional costs being placed on to health systems in terms of treatment. Currently, only 3% of European public health budgets is spent on prevention7, and this is where we need to push for change. The promotion of self-care provides a win-win, including the empowerment of people in the management of their health and wellbeing, and the improved allocation of healthcare resources.”

10 steps to a shared self-care vision The white paper on self-care is the result of extensive discussions with a broad range of health experts. It identifies ten policy recommendations that can be implemented to overcome these barriers and empower people to better manage their self-care.

  1. Build health education opportunities earlier in life
  2. Simplify OTC leaflets and increase their digital accessibility
  3. Create a fact-checking project at EU level
  4. Support real-world evidence generation and acceptance
  5. Create innovative financial schemes to make self-care accessible to all
  6. Create financial structures to support pharmacists in their advisory role
  7. Include self-care in the curriculum of HCPs
  8. Create structures and tools to support the exchange of data
  9. Create platforms for collaboration between different HCPs
  10. Develop supporting policies for self-care

The research also identified a common vision of how to address the challenges facing European healthcare systems with prevention, healthy lifestyles and health management it is core, and three clear priorities:

  • Expand the role of pharmacists
  • Increase health education
  • Ensure access to self-care.

Pharmacists: the VIPs of healthcare Pharmacies are already vitally important. They’re trusted by the public to offer advice and therefore need to be recognised as experts, expanding their role to free up resources elsewhere in the healthcare system.

Championing health education There is a need to equip people with the right skills and information so they can separate fact from promotional material and misinformation, seek advice from healthcare professionals (HCPs) at the right time and follow self-care advice to achieve better health outcomes.

The power of inclusive access People can make better health choices when they have better access to relatable facts about successful self-care practices. Gathering real-world evidence of what works and clearly signpost/certify scientifically proven information may help in their decision processes.


  • 1.2 billion minor ailments are self-managed in Europe every year. Without self-care, Europe would need 120,000 more doctors8
  • 46% of the European population is not adequately health literate9
  • 80% or more of all heart diseases, stroke and diabetes, and 40% of cancers could be avoided by using appropriate preventative measures10
  • 70% of European healthcare budgets is spent on curing and on long-term care for largely preventable diseases11
  • 3% of European healthcare budgets, on average, is spent on prevention.12

The full white paper – Redefining the role of self-care in Europe – is available to read here


Media contacts

Chirag Nakum

[email protected]

+44 7765 881632

Notes to Editors

Redefining the role of self-care in Europe is a white paper prepared by Vintura based on research and expert stakeholder roundtables on self-care. The white paper aims to provide a vision for the future of self-care in Europe, not restricted to the EU, along with a fact-based overview of the current challenges and their potential solutions in the form of policy recommendations. The white paper has been based on work and research conducted by Vintura and sponsored by Haleon. The research was done between May and December 2021 where insights from a literature study and desk research were combined with two roundtables with relevant stakeholders from national, European and global organisations. The roundtables conducted were with stakeholders from all across Europe, representing different types of organisations including academic, national governments, European organisations, non-profits, and trade associations. In the context of this report, the pharmacy is considered part of the healthcare system.

The white paper is a continuation of work by Haleon (previously known as GSK Consumer Healthcare) to move the debate on self-care forward positively from the initial research paper published by Vintura and commissioned by Haleon, The Health-Economic Benefits of Self-care in Europe.

It is the ambition of the writers of the White Paper and Haleon to empower people to take better care of their everyday health.

About Haleon

Haleon (LSE / NYSE: HLN) is a global leader in consumer health, with a purpose to deliver better everyday health with humanity. Haleon’s product portfolio spans five major categories - Oral Health, Pain Relief, Respiratory Health, Digestive Health and Other, and Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements (VMS). Its long-standing brands – such as Advil, Sensodyne, Panadol, Voltaren, Theraflu, Otrivin, Polident, parodontax and Centrum – are built on trusted science, innovation and deep human understanding.

For more information, please visit

About Vintura

Vintura is a leading strategy & organisation consultancy specialised in healthcare and life sciences, founded in 2000. We apply our extensive expertise and experience to support healthcare providers, payers and pharmaceuticals and medical devices companies to bring about ongoing improvement based on a clear vision and solid strategy. Vintura operates both on an international and local level, working for Headquarters and associations as well as local healthcare organisations and affiliates, herewith taking into account the dynamics of local healthcare systems.

Our mission is ‘creating meaningful impact in healthcare together’, and for this reason Vintura is involved in multiple policy-shaping initiatives, working together with leading companies, associations, and policymakers.

Vintura consists of 80+ dedicated professionals and has offices in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France and Germany and is currently further expanding into Europe.

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5- EPSU analysis confirmed: Europe has a severe shortage of health care professionals | EPSU
6-The EPOSSI Barometer: Consumer Perceptions of self-care in Europe. EPPOSI, 2013. Last accessed Nov 10, 2020. Available at: