12 May 2015
European Parliament, rue RueWiertz 60,
Active Citizenship Network (ACN) has decided to dedicate the 9th celebration of the European Patients’ Rights Day 2015 (launched by ACN in 2003) to the sustainability of healthcare systems focusing on what concerns chronic diseases.
Chronic diseases represent the major share of the burden of disease in Europe and are responsible for 86% of all deaths. They affect more than 80% of people aged over 65 and represent a major challenge for health and social systems. An estimated € 700 billion per year (it means 70 to 80% of overall EU health care budgets) are spent on chronic diseases in the European Union. Moreover, we need to keep in mind the increasing demands for expensive medical technology that are made by a society that is ageing rapidly. In this context, the sustainability of our health and social systems is at stake. It is crucial to find new ways of investing in sustainable health systems, moving beyond limiting expenditure to addressing the demand for health and social services, much of which is related to chronic diseases.
The focus will be on different but complementary main aspects such as the responsibility of different actors involved in sustainable healthcare systems and the role of prevention and innovation.
The role of prevention and innovation in sustainable healthcare systems
What we need to look for are more effective and smarter approaches to the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and to the preservation of “life with dignity” for patients. To find new approaches and change what is wrong, it is fundamental to reflect on how and to what extent the right to the observance of quality standards can be respected, in a context of cuts and financial constraints. This also leads us to another aspect that has been a key preoccupation of the informal meeting of the 28 European Health Ministers held on 22 and 23 September 2014 during the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union: if there is a real danger for quality of healthcare to not be guaranteed to patients, what would be the “innovative approaches” to make the healthcare sector more sustainable? This is a concern highlighted also in the 2015 European Commission's Annual Growth Survey. It is true that many EU countries already have recommendations to reform their health systems to make them more efficient and sustainable, but this is not enough. So, it is not only how much money is spent, but also how it is spent that determines country’s health status. This is in line with what new Health Commissioner Andriukaitis said in the concluding remarks of the Council of Ministers of Health on 1 December 2014 in Brussels. According to him “health sector is a contributor to growth” and “innovation is crucial to guarantee patient safety and quality of care”.
The responsibility of different actors in the sustainability of healthcare systems
Starting from an empowered patient, the main topic of last European day of Patients’ rights 2014, we need to reflect on the role and the responsibilities of other actors involved in healthcare systems, in a context where there is a high risk that indirect costs for patients and informal carers become unsustainable. ACN is currently involving its network in the production of a survey regarding these issues.
We are talking about costs that are often unsustainable and have as much weight as the disease itself on the quality of people lives. As a consequence, treatment and dignity for chronic patients are no longer a right, but a privilege for few lucky ones. All these considerations cannot be done at a national dimension anymore, but a wider perspective at European level is needed, as chronic patients may suffer same issues and face same challenges even if they do not live in the same place. We believe these are very relevant aspects to reflect on, as patients and informal carers play a fundamental role in the assistance and taking care of chronic patients also from an economic point of view.
The debate will be focused on the role and the responsibility of each actor involved in healthcare sector to make it sustainable and efficient, to create a shared understanding of sustainability, an integrated approach which consists of a balance of economic development, social equity and quality of care. In this context a “Patient Declaration” will be presented to raise awareness about the importance of incentivizing medical research and innovation.
See some of the 12 May Conference's photos
Active Citizenship Network:
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