#EAPM – MEPs face camera on health care in EU

| February 6, 2019

The Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) has this week been on a mission to gauge opinions on health-care needs in the EU, Parliamentary engagement and policymaking, from sitting MEPs as well as leading EU patient organizations which included EURORDIS (rare disease), European Patient Forum and European Cancer Patient Coalition, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.    

During an especially busy day yesterday (5 February), the Alliance has been filming a clutch of one-minute-long interviews with a core group of MEPs to test the water as MEPs gear up for the European elections in May . With around 70% of European Union citizens wanting the EU to do more as a cohesive unit on health care (despite member state competency in the main in this arena), elected representatives in Brussels and Strasbourg are more than aware of the magnitude and scope of this topic.

These is equally true of those aspiring to take a post-election seat in the hemicycle for the first time  in the next legislature. Facing EAPM’s camera have been MEPs, representing many member states, with whom the Alliance has worked down the years, many of them specialists in various aspects of healthcare and who sit on relevant committees.  Several of the interviewees are also members of the STEPs Group of MEPs, with ‘STEPs’ standing for Specialised Treatment for Europe’s Patients, and many have spoken at EAPM events over time.

Among those MEPs being interviewed have been Cristian Busoi (Romania), Lambert Van Nistelrooij (the Netherlands), Marian Harkin, (Ireland), Andrey Kovatchev (Bulgaria) Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland) and Dubravka Suica (Croatia).

Joining them have been Miroslav Mikolasik(Slovakia), Soledad CabezonRuiz (Spain), Miriam Dalli(Malta), Gesine Meissner (Germany), Anna Zaborska (also Slovakia) and Lieve Wierinck (Belgium).

EAPM has, down the years, collaborated successfully and often with the European Parliament as it aims to present and push the case for embedding personalised medicine into the EU’s health-care systems.   This collaboration and mutual support will continue throughout 2019 and beyond. One main purpose for the interviews, especially as we hit the run-up to those elections, is to highlight the institution’s role in healthcare, while focusing on the contribution of MEPs in driving forward innovation and pushing for equity and best practice in this key arena.

On a very topical note, World Cancer Day fell on Monday (4 February) and we have seen great leaps in tackling this disease, not least through advances in our knowledge of how genes work. As well as cancer, specialized topics being addressed have been the importance of personalised health care, equitable access for patients to the best treatments available, ongoing training for health-care professionals, health literacy, citizens’ priorities in health care, HTA, the sharing of vital medical data (including genomic), healthcare research budgets, and the need for incentives to aid innovation.

Despite the Member State competency, as mentioned above, the European Parliament has overseen key areas of legislation in recent years, not least in the arenas of data protection, in vitro diagnostics, clinical trials, cross-border healthcare and, at the moment, health technology assessment. Stakeholders have been engaged and listened to, amendments to European Commission proposals have been tabled, votes have been taken and recommendations made, not least to the Council.

These core MEPs are aware that bringing innovation into healthcare systems in Europe is vital if we are to promote equal access to the best treatment options available for all our citizens, regardless of financial status and/or geographical location, while ensuring delivery ofthe right treatment for the right patient at the right time.

This has always been a priority for EAPM, its members and stakeholders, and the Alliance has consistently been helped by the MEPs who work with EAPM, support it, and strive for the same goals.  Of course, all of the European Parliament’s political parties differ on many things, as do member states. But Europe has often seen agreements built in the arena of healthcare through a willingness to give citizens the best that it can, regardless of political hue.

This, EAPM believes, is worthy of celebrating and highlighting as we move towards a new legislature.    Hence this series of interviews, conducted by EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan, who said: “We are delighted that such a distinguished group of MEPs, many of whom we have engaged with for some time and with excellent results, have been prepared to give up their time in what is a particularly busy period.

“These are knowledgable people when it comes to the health of the EU’s citizens and all have done a great deal to further the goals of European health care in general and personalised medicine in particular,” Horgan added.

The on-camera interviews will be made available online in the coming days.

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