Press release, /

EU Member States need integrated care models when managing chronic diseases

Brussels, 1 December 2010 – The Belgian Presidency of the European Union and Health First Europe (HFE) have called for European leadership in the management of chronic diseases at a conference jointly organized in the European Parliament on 1 December entitled “Chronic Disease Management: Aim for an Innovative Cure.” The conference aimed at engaging Members of the European Parliament in the ongoing discussion about the challenge facing the EU and its Member States’ in terms of their role(s) in managing care in chronic diseases.

Chronic conditions and diseases are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Europe. Including diseases such as diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, dementia, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, the WHO estimates that in the EU region, the costs of chronic diseases and their risk factors range up to 6.77% of a country’s GDP. In this respect, the Belgian Presidency of the European Union has made chronic diseases a priority during its presidency. At the next Health Ministerial Council meeting on 6 December, they will present their conclusions on chronic diseases’ management and prevention.

These long term conditions affect patients’ quality of life and at the same time impose a serious burden on healthcare systems. Some of these diseases may not be curable but by providing new innovative treatments, healthcare authorities can help patients forget that they are patients”, said today John Bowis, HFE’s Honorary President at the conference.

The two MEPs co-hosting the conference MEP Kathleen van Brempt (BE, S&D) and MEP Miroslav Mikolasik (SK, EPP) reinforced their support in engaging with different health stakeholders to uncover solutions.

MEP Mikolasik stated that “a lot has been done on the prevention side” and he specially mentioned the tobacco and obesity as major risk factors for chronic diseases. MEP van Brempt added that “with the current economic crisis, looking at disease management programmes introduced by some European countries to improve chronic care and contain costs should be a priority for all EU Governments”.

Nurses and in general healthcare workers are exposed to new paradigms in the way healthcare is delivered. This means that our workers need new settings and new qualifications. These qualifications may change over time this will certainly help in the management of chronic diseases. We need to work hand in hand with decision makers to assess the investments and training needed to improve our workforce in Europe”, stressed Paul de Raeve, Secretary General of the European Federation of Nurses.

Belgian Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx explained that “Europe has many health challenges and the EU should really work to help patients make healthy choices easily. This will only be possible if we involve patients and stimulate an integrated approach to healthcare”.

Minister Onkelinx added that “The European Union has been applying the “disease by disease” approach. Now it is time to have a holistic approach to chronic diseases bringing together different stakeholders in the discussion on the challenges our systems and our society are facing. EU Member States need integrated care models when managing chronic diseases”.

John Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Eucomed, outlined the commitment of the medical technology industry in Europe to continue to develop new cost-effective products that improve the quality of life of patients but also reduces the burden on healthcare systems all over Europe… “Innovation is critical for our industry to unleash its potential. We are pleased to see that the Europe 2020 Strategy acknowledges the importance of innovation as a way forward. Engaging with policy-makers and our stakeholders is also essential to create the most cost-effective and patient-centered solutions for our society”.

Peteris Zilgalvis from the European Commission referred to some EU initiatives that look at bringing innovation into healthcare. In particular Mr. Zilgalvis explained the “Innovative Union”, one of the flaghships of the EU 2020 strategy that wants to address some of societal challenges of the EU by putting innovation at the heart of the strategy. He explained that “the European Commission will be working among other things in addressing chronic diseases such as Alzheimer, an age related disease that will affect more and more of the EU”.

Prof. Panos E. Vardas, President, European Heart Rhythm Association, recalled that “there are many different chronic diseases and conditions and they have in common is that they all need a long-term response, coordinated by different health professionals and of course access to new innovative treatments and extending into home care. Nowadays, most treatments are offered around acute episodes in the hospital setting”.

Notes for the editor:

Health First Europe is a non-profit, non-commercial alliance of patients, healthcare workers, academics and healthcare experts and the medical technology industry.
We aim to ensure that equitable access to modern, innovative and reliable medical technology and healthcare is regarded as a vital investment in the future of Europe. We call for truly patient-centred healthcare and believe that every European citizen should benefit from the best medical treatments available.

For more information contact:
Patricia Lamas Sánchez
HFE’s Secretariat
T: 0032 (0) 489334298