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EU destination in sight: Doing it right to bring personalised health care to patients – CAN.HEAL Event, Rome, 26-27 April, 2023

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Registration is still open (albeit virtually) for our upcoming CAN.HEAL Stakeholder conference which will be held on Wednesday, 26 April and Thursday, 27 April.  Since this week, all the seats are taken and we can’t unfortunately accept any more registrations to be there in person.  

However for colleagues who wish to follow the Stakeholder event online, please send an email to my colleague, Marta Kozaric: [email protected].

Please click here to view the agenda and to click here for the CAN.HEAL website

To perfectly match the less-than-perfect times we find ourselves in, the conference is entitled '“Reducing Disparities Across the European Union”.   The event is organized by the European Cancer Patient Coalition as well as the EAPM.

A key role of the CAN.HEAL conference is to bring together experts to agree policies by consensus and take our conclusions to policy makers. And this time, we go even further into the realm of expertise, given the huge crisis that we are all facing.

So, what are among the topics on the table?

The needs for tackling cancer are obvious – and the EU initiative of the Beating Cancer Plan can certainly contribute to solutions, with its funding of more than €4 billion and pathways to additional financing via EU programmes on research and on regional and recovery funding. 

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There is no question of the volume and gravity of the needs. Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in EU countries after cardiovascular diseases. Every year, around 2.6 million people are diagnosed with the disease, and it kills another 1.2 million people. 

The overall economic burden of cancer in Europe is estimated at more than €100 billion annually. In addition to putting pressure on individuals, national health and social care systems and state budgets, this disease also affects productivity and economic growth.

New scientific understanding and new techniques and methodologies are opening up horizons for great improvements in diagnosis and care.

However, take-up is uneven, research needs, and potential outstrip currently available resources, manifestly beneficial practices – such as population-level screening for lung cancer – are still not generalised, and the quality of life of patients and survivors is only beginning to be given the attention it merits. 

The EU can help the member states in need of evidence-based policy making to ensure that all EU citizens have equal access to high-quality cancer prevention, screening, diagnostics, treatment, and aftercare. Nevertheless, cancer is not just one disease, and different forms of cancer present different challenges which should be taken into account in any policy discussion. 

Over and above the general actions that can help in the overall combat against cancer, there are particular needs within specific types of cancer. 

This Stakeholder conference will look at some of those specifics in the interest of planning a way forward. 

Part of this exercise involves also taking account of the specific nature of Europe and its constituent countries, where the complexities of planning a way forward are redoubled by the wide variations in national and regional approaches to cancer, local epidemiology, and the wide disparities in health systems, on which much improvement depends – including notably the supply-side considerations of resources and expertise for testing, treatment, reimbursement, or infrastructure, and the demand-side considerations of incidence, take-up, and awareness. 

This conundrum is the rationale for this stakeholder conference by examining the possibilities for mobilisation of common efforts to identify gaps and promote improvements across the cancer field, with particular attention to access and diagnostics for all as well as public health genomics.

The time is right to develop cooperation via the EU Beating Cancer Plan, Horizon Europe, and other EU policy instruments, in synergy with the Member States, regions, and cities, and with foundations, civil society and industry. 

This could ensure maximum benefit from the available resources, in terms of EU funding from Horizon Europe for R&l actions, deployment through other MFF instruments, national/regional financial support, and the de-risking of private investments.

Despite all the differences between cancers and national and regional resources and approaches to cancer care, there is a common objective in pursuing wider and more equal access to the best available care for all European citizens. However, the big challenge that is still present for patients with cancer is the equity of access to screening and therapeutic innovations

 Furthermore, much of the mechanisms to achieve this require national as much as – or more than – EU action. Archetypically, even though marketing authorisation in Europe is a centralised process through the European Medicines Agency, the reimbursement process of innovative therapeutics still occurs at a national level. 

The job of Europe in much of this is to promote collaboration, demonstrate best practices, encourage improvements and leverage of learning out of the recent pandemic

The above are just an example of the huge topics, among many up for discussion on the day. So be sure to join us on 26-27 April.

Once again, to participate virtually, please contact my colleague, Marta Kozaric: [email protected], to participate virtually and please click here to view the agenda.

The event is organized by the European Cancer Patient Coalition as well as the EAPM.

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