On the 15th of February EFA organised an alignment meeting with patient associations representing people with asthma, allergy and COPD in Latvia and Lithuania. Despite their interest, Estonian patient associations were unavailable to attend this meeting, which took place in Lithuanian capital – Vilnius.
The main objective of the meeting was to renew the relationships between EFA and its member organizations in Lithuania as well as to establish a relationship with the organization in Latvia, where EFA’s has not had a member yet. EFA was represented by its Board Member Lina Buzermaniene, who is also President of the Lithuanian Council of Asthma Clubs, along with David Brennan and Jan Meissner from the EFA office in Brussels. Lithuanian Council of Asthma Clubs was also represented by Inga Zalnerauskiene, who participated also on behalf of Association of Allergic Children Clubs. The Association of Asthma Patient Clubs in Lithuania was represented by Egle Kvederaite. On behalf of Latvian Asthma and Allergy Association, both Rita Paeglite and Inese Vicupe joined the meeting.
The first part of the meeting was reserved for introductions while EFA’s priorities and recent events were then presented by all members of EFA. After a short break, each of the participants presented their association – the history, activities, their expectations from EFA membership (or past experience of being a member) and mostly the troubles they are currently facing. Despite difficulties attracting attention from policy makers, lack of human recourses and funding of the associations, all of the organisations, particularly the Latvian Asthma and Allergy Association, proved that they are very active in improving the lives of people with asthma, allergy and COPD and to raise awareness about these diseases.
The last part of the meeting was dedicated to discussions and sharing experiences from being a patient association in Latvia and Lithuania relating it to the experiences of EFA and its other members. The whole meeting was conducted with a very friendly atmosphere and some of the participants met after 10 years of having no contact. EFA strongly supports membership of the Latvian Asthma and Allergy Association as they have demonstrated their organisation management, various activities and enthusiasm for patient rights are perfectly in line with EFA’s philosophy. We also hope to strengthen ties with the organizations from Lithuania for the very same reasons and hope future capacity building activities of EFA can help with their development and presence in society.