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Press Release: EFA Calls for Strategy at Chronic Diseases Summit

Patients with asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease call for an EU strategy on chronic diseases

European institutions must take the lead to tackle respiratory diseases affecting more than half of EU citizens

The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) participates today and tomorrow in the first-ever EU Chronic Diseases Summit to call on the EU institutions to adopt an EU strategy on chronic diseases.  Allergy and respiratory diseases, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are among the most common chronic diseases in Europe, but lack of specific policies and coordination at EU level to prevent them and to improve care strategies is resulting in an alarming increase of newly affected patients and in unnecessary illness of patients already affected.

Chronic diseases are imposing significant burdens on European healthcare, social systems and the patients themselves. The World Health Organisation estimates that chronic diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the European region, accounting for 86% of all deaths and for 77% of the disability adjusted life years (DALYs). What is more, according to the EU Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg, annually EU health systems spend €700bn on treating chronic diseases, which amounts to between 70-80% of all healthcare costs in the EU.

The EU has to date missed the opportunity to adopt a multidimensional strategy and the necessary policy measures to reduce the prevalence and prevent chronic diseases. Despite the reflection process launched by the Council in 2010 and the 2012 European Commission open consultation on chronic diseases, such a strategy remains out of the EU policy agenda, and asthma and allergy do not receive the attention they deserve. Yet, asthma currently affects 30 million people in Europe, with 6 million of these people suffering from severe asthma forms; allergy, it is estimated that 1 in every 2 Europeans will suffer from an allergy by 2015 and COPD is a progressive disease that affects 44 million people in Europe and it is expected to be the 3rd leading cause of death by 2030.

“In our disease areas we have successful examples of countries that managed to reduce prevalence and burden of these diseases – patients feel better, costs are cut and the increasing prevalence trend halting. An EU Strategy on Chronic Diseases should include specific best practices such as the Finnish allergy, asthma and COPD programmes and the Danish COPD prevention programme. In elaborating this approach, the European Commission and the Member States should take into account the perspective of patients’ groups and primary care organisations”, says EFA President, Breda Flood at the summit.

EFA is asking the European Commission to develop a comprehensive EU strategy on chronic diseases with disease specific chapters to tackle their incidence, their determining risk factors, the negative consequences for the health of affected people, their families and the economies of the EU and Member States, together with key stakeholders, including patients.

EFA and more than 400 participants including representatives of EU institutions, Member States, and professional groups, will discuss today and tomorrow how to address chronic diseases in the most efficient way in Europe. EFA will promote patients’ perspective and disseminate its Manifesto ahead of European Parliament elections in May, already endorsed by 15 current Members of European Parliament and candidates.

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For more information please contact: Roberta Savli, EU Policy Adviser (roberta.savli@efanet.org, +32 (0)2 227 2720)

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The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) is a non-profit network of allergy, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) patients organisations, representing 35 national associations in 22 countries and over 400,000 patients. EFA is dedicated to making Europe a place where people with allergies, asthma and COPD have the right to best quality of care and safe environment, live uncompromised lives and are actively involved in all decisions influencing their health. Visit www.efanet.org for more information.

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