The Patient Access Partnership (PACT) gathered a wide range of stakeholders at the MEP Interest Group on Access to Healthcare (20 February 2019) in the European Parliament. As well as three European Commission Directorate-Generals, MEP Lieve Wierinick, MEP Karin Kadenbach, several patient organizations, and industry representatives reflected on the future of EU level health policy.

More EU involvement in healthcare is needed

According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, 70% of Europeans would like to see more EU cooperation in the field of health.

Given current concerns about the political ‘rollback’ of EU involvement in health expected after the European elections, and the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 (MFF), advocating for health to be a priority topic for the EU is crucial.

Although health systems are mainly within the competence of the member states, the EU has an important role in bringing all the stakeholders to the table, addressing common challenges, setting up guidelines and facilitating the exchange of good practices and expertise. Closer and continuous cooperation between Member States in terms of access to healthcare will help address the huge differences existing across Europe.

“A healthy population is an economic necessity. Health is a core European value enshrined in the EU Treaty; it is also an explicit part of the European Pillar of Social Rights and very much part of the debates surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal number 3 refers to achieving Universal Access to Health (UAH) by 2030; however, health inequalities across and within member states are still striking.” – Anne Bucher (Director General DG SANTE, European Commission)

Better access to health for all patients around the EU

The event took place under the title ‘EU collaboration in health for better access: Taking stock and looking to the future’. Its main objectives were presenting the ongoing health-related initiatives at an EU and inter-sectorial level, highlighting the importance of health cooperation at EU level and presenting the expectations of health stakeholders to the EU institutions ahead of the elections.

The forthcoming conference will call upon this discussion under the theme “The future of health in the EU: United we stand strong” on July 11- 12 2019.

Please click here to read the full event report.

Universal access to health care and access through inclusion

Elisabeth Kasilingam, EMSP Managing Director was one of the panelists at the ‘Universal access to health care and access through inclusion’ roundtable discussion. She emphasized the massive disparities across Europe in terms of access to multiple sclerosis (MS) treatments and therapies. She also pointed out that there is an urgent need to improve access to early diagnosis, personalized treatment, and multidisciplinary care.

Ms. Kasilingam highlighted other issues pertaining to the personal impact of MS, such as social exclusion and discrimination in the labor market, lack of public funding for research for a cure and the need for better data for better outcomes.

“We believe that to ensure solutions that are fit-for-purpose and real added-value for patients, their voice and recommendations need to be taken into account. The viewpoint of the other stakeholders, consulted on a regular basis before decision-making will bring a comprehensive understanding of complex issues, preventing unnecessary spending on policies which do not achieve tangible results. This would ensure that solutions are tailor-made for the specific needs of society.”

Advocating for sustainable healthcare to ease the burden of brain diseases

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one disease among many others that are an economic burden for society. Better access to healthcare will definitively help reduce that burden. The cost of MS and brain diseases for Europe was estimated at almost 800 billion euro in 2010.

“There is a need for more awareness at the national level to succeed to influence change on the political agenda. This requires a commitment to take home these messages and ensure that after the elections we keep working together on this.”

Ms. Kasilingam called on politicians and partners to look for future-proofed, sustainable solutions to improve access to healthcare for all. Access to MS treatments and therapies in Europe is an absolute strategic priority and EMSP routinely collects data on access to MS treatment and therapies (through the EMSP MS Barometer).