EU institutions reach a deal on the EU4Health Programme

ECDA welcomes the news of a deal on the EU4Health programme, with a priority on disease prevention and at least 20% of the budget reserved for health promotion and disease prevention by addressing risk factors such as tobacco consumption and the harmful use of alcohol. This is a major step forward in protecting citizens from the rising prevalence of chronic diseases in Europe.

It is ECDA's understanding that the deal also includes the reinforcement of the mandate and capacity of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the extension of the European Reference Networks (ERNs) to non-communicable diseases and many other actions that will allow to better prevent and control chronic diseases in the EU. Further, strengthened involvement of civil society in the development of annual work programmes will ensure greater synergies between actions and Europeans/patients’ needs.

We encourage EU institutions to rapidly adopt the final text in order for the programme to start in 2021 and to continue to embed chronic diseases within EU and national COVID-19 recovery plans.

More information:

How do health systems meet the challenge of managing chronic diseases during COVID-19 and beyond?

In an article published  on 18th of November in Friends of Europe "Europe's World" series on health, ECDA Chairman Prof. Vanholder shares perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on chronic disease prevention and care, and outlines recommendations to strengthen healthcare systems in the area.

Read the article here.

Extending the mandate of the ECDC to cover non-communicable diseases

The Commission’s legislative proposal to extend the mandate of the ECDC is expected on 11 November.

The European Chronic Disease Alliance recommends the extension of the mandate to chronic diseases, in alignment with the Parliament’s resolution on the “EU’s public health strategy post COVID-19” adopted in July 2020 and the conclusions of the independent external evaluation of the ECDC in 2019.

The evaluation highlighted that the “opportunities stemming from an extension of the mandate to the non-communicable diseases are related to the expected increased sustainability and efficiency of EU-level activities in these areas and the potential for link and synergies with ECDC’s communicable diseases related work, that could also encourage more integration at national level”. The COVID-19 crisis further amplifies how relevant this conclusion is.

There is a critical lack of comparable data and guidance to Member States in the area, responsibilities which ECDC is naturally well placed to take up notably due to its renown expertise, experience and pre-established networks amongst national public health authorities.

ECDA hopes that consideration is given to this recommendation in the context of the Council Working Party on Public Health meeting taking place on the 29th of October to discuss draft Council Conclusions on COVID-19 lessons learned in health; and while the Commission introduces a COVID-19 health response package.

Read the full paper here.

This paper is supported by MEPs Kateřina Konečná (Czechia, GUE/NGL) and Brando Benifei (Italy, S&D). 

CHRODIS Plus WP 8: Workbox on employment & chronic diseases

The CHRODIS Plus Joint Action (2017-2020) has come to an end, after 3 years of intense work.

Outcomes of the Joint Action are available here. The overarching conclusions & recommendations to integrate NCD good practices into national policies can be found here.

The Work Package 8 on employment & chronic diseases has produced a workbox composed of:

  • a training tool for managers promoting inclusiveness of people with chronic diseases at work
  • a toolkit for workplaces offering 127 means to foster employees’ wellbeing

The materials are available in 10 languages.

In this Work Package, 18 partners from 11 EU countries worked together to develop and pilot the workbox, which provides ideas and tools to: measure, evaluate and strengthen the inclusiveness of workplaces and the work ability of employees with chronic conditions; foster wellbeing, health, and work ability of all employees; prevent the development of chronic diseases; support employees to return to work after a sick leave; and help individuals with chronic health conditions to stay at work.

Further, policy recommendations will be available by the end of the year.

An overview of the work carried out by the Work Package is provided in the summary video here.

Why are these deliverables so important? 

  • Over 1 in 4 employees in Europe report suffering from a long-standing illness or health problem (2018 data)
  • Fostering employees’ wellbeing, health, and work participation benefits individuals, employers and the society as a whole

ECDA contributed to the Work Package 8. Hear the audio message from ECDA Chairman Prof Vanholder on the outputs of this collaboration.

Open Letter to AGRIFISH Council - Front of Pack Nutrition labelling

Call for a mandatory EU-wide Front of Pack nutrition labelling system with a public health mindset

On the occasion of World Food Day, as the European Commission's conference on the EU Farm to Fork Strategy is ongoing, and ahead of the next AGRIFISH Council, ECDA together with four other health organisations and several MEPs issue an open letter to Ministers responsible for Agriculture to express their support for the adoption of a harmonised, interpretative and mandatory EU front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling system and ask Ministers to put public health perspectives above trade considerations or regional/local business preferences.

Indeed, public health is the very reason for the Commission’s decision to put forward a proposal by end 2022. The Commission states in the Farm to Fork Strategy that it will propose such a scheme “to enable consumers to make health conscious food choices”. 

The letter follows the publication of a “non-paper” submitted in September by seven member states, for consideration by the Council, that raises serious concerns from a health perspective.

The signatories outline the following principles:

  • The future FOP labelling system should be mandatory for all EU member states
  • Interpretative FOP labels appear to be preferred to FOP informative labels
  • Exemptions will undermine the aim of the system to be implemented uniformly and consistently
  • Uniform reference values (e.g. per 100g or ml) should be indicated for all products
  • A thorough FOP labelling policy monitoring and evaluation programme should be put in place

The full letter is available here

Co-signatories: MEP Biljana Borzan, MEP Sarah Wiener, European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA), European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), European Public Health Association (EUPHA), European Patients Forum (EPF)

Joint Action CHRODIS+ Final Conference - 27 October 2020

Press release from CHRODIS+

Over its 3-year lifespan, the aim of CHRODIS PLUS Joint Action (2017-2020) has been to support Member States in overcoming the burden of chronic diseases by promoting policies and practices that have proved successful in the past. Further refinement and EU cross-border sharing of these tested policies and good practices has been the core idea behind this pan-European project.

CHRODIS PLUS has implemented 21 pilot projects aimed at testing tools and good practices for certain chronic diseases, and held 17 policy dialogues (15 national and 2 EU-level ones). It has brought together over 50 partners from 21 European countries.

All good things come to an end: CHRODIS PLUS will hold its closing online conference on 27 October 2020.

This conference will illustrate the impact that CHRODIS PLUS has had on public health systems across EU member states over the past 3 years. It will focus on showing how the good practices, models and tools implemented by the project can be tailored to various national and local settings across Europe.

The conference’s presentations and roundtable discussions will be structured around the project’s key focus areas:

  • Health Promotion & Primary Prevention
  • An Integrated Multimorbidity Care Model
  • Fostering Quality Care for People with Chronic Diseases
  • ICT-based Patient Empowerment
  • Employment & Chronic Diseases


Agenda and more information available here.

ECDA meets with European Health Commissioner Kyriakides to discuss the EU response to chronic diseases

On the 18th of September 2020, ECDA had a virtual meeting with the Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides, as well as Cabinet members and officials from DG SANTE, to discuss chronic disease prevention and control in Europe, the EU4Health Programme and Europe’s Beating Cancer plan.

Commissioner Kyriakides expressed the Commission’s dedication to a European Health Union that prevents major chronic diseases and supports chronic disease patients – irrespective of the pandemic; and to negotiating a strong EU4Health programme that helps achieve objectives proposed by the Commission in the field. These will be supported by plans to expand the European Reference Networks (ERNs) and strengthen healthcare systems in order to address the challenges that were exemplified by the COVID-19 crisis.

She also reaffirmed the intention to reinforce the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The EU Pharmaceutical Strategy and Europe’s Beating Cancer plan will be important instruments to improve access to care and prevent chronic diseases as well as comorbidities.

The crisis is an opportunity to do more for Europeans’ health and the Commission intends to act upon it.

EU4Health Civil Society Alliance: 10 Guiding Principles for the new health programme

As the COVID19 pandemic continues to affect individuals, societies and economies worldwide, the need to strengthen healthcare access and disease-prevention, whilst reducing health inequalities and bringing innovation to health systems across Europe persists, and is to-date stronger than ever.

Following recent announcements related to the financial cuts in the Commission’s new health programme, and in view of the upcoming ENVI committee vote on the draft EU4Health programme proposal later this month, the EU4Health Civil Society Alliance, which ECDA is contributing to, have gathered their expertise and carried out a joint analysis of the programme. The Alliance has developed a list of 10 guiding principles, to act as guidelines and help ensure the new programme’s full potential.

The EU4Health CSA believes that the new programme should focus on ensuring long-term health improvements beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

Read the guidelines in the statement available for download here.

About the EU4Health Civil Society Alliance:
The EU4Health Civil Society Alliance (CSA) is a group of patient and public health civil society organisations and advocates, representing many diverse networks of European citizens concerned with health and well-being. You can find more information here.

Global Week for Action on NCDs: Five key actions for Europe to accelerate progress in the response to chronic diseases

The Global Week for Action on NCDs (non-communicable diseases) 2020 starts today. A week to keep up momentum for action on chronic disease prevention and control at a pivotal time for the European Union: as pandemic recovery plans are defined and ongoing budget negotiations will frame public health efforts for the coming years.

The COVID-19 crisis reflects the impact of major chronic (non-communicable) diseases on our societies and the vulnerability of patients and healthcare systems. It shows that health issues are intertwined, and that we cannot respond to the pandemic - caused by a respiratory pathogen - without integrating prevention and control of chronic diseases in recovery plans (action #1).

Innovative measures are needed to address their high and growing prevalence in Europe.

Taking a more strategic approach to disease prevention

The various objectives of the EU Green Deal, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, Farm to Fork strategy etc are welcome and will likely bring tangible results in protecting citizens from the main risk factors of chronic diseases. However, Europe needs a comprehensive strategic framework for disease prevention (action #2), that will allow a better coordination of efforts among sectors, policies and goals; more alignment with WHO recommendations and greater implementation of successful practices across EU countries in relevant areas. This will further embed public health objectives and prevention into all EU policies.

Putting in place new structures at EU-level to promote health and improve chronic disease control

There is a clear unmet need for a European mechanism to collect and analyse harmonised and comparable data on diseases and risk factors (action #3) at EU level. This should be defined as a high priority for EU financing and could be put into motion as part of the European Health Data Space. Without creating the capacities to collect reliable data in a uniformed way, policymakers and all relevant actors will have limited ability to define policies that truly respond to the scale of the problem and to evaluate the outcomes of actions taken. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown more than ever the need for health data to be interoperable.

Further, extending the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to chronic disease prevention and management (action #4) in Europe now becomes paramount, to allow the agency to provide guidance to act on a major health challenge that is common to every EU country, and that has important links with other health threats falling under the agency’s remit.

The EU has the means to expand the successful model of the European Reference Networks (ERNs) to chronic diseases, especially for improved management of co-morbidities (action #5) – this should be acted upon in a timely manner. EU cooperation will be precious due to the complexity of cases.

All of these actions will necessitate investment. While institutions are negotiating the EU budget for 2021-2027 and the funds to support pandemic recovery, it is essential that public health and health research be prioritised. The EU4Health programme shall remain a strong instrument to deliver its ambitious objectives, notably to respond to chronic diseases; and support Member States meet their United Nations commitments in the field.

More information about the Global Week for Action on NCDs here

EU budget: It is time to invest in a healthy future

The European Council reached a crucial agreement on the budget underlying the COVID-19 recovery and the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) on Tuesday 21 July.

However, the proposed €9.4 billion EU4Health Programme, featuring funding from Next Generation EU and the MFF, has been reduced to €1.7 billion, jeopardising the EU’s ability to deliver the ambitious objectives set in the field of health. Funding for the Horizon Europe programme has also been reduced. This will have a considerable impact on health research and innovation, an area where the EU aims to gain global leadership.

We call on the EU institutions to work together with European leaders to stand firm behind a strong budget for long-term health action.

Read here the full joint statement from EU health organisations part of the EU4Health civil society alliance.