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17 December 2020
Asthma , Allergy, Food Allergy
- Patient Evidence, - Interest Group, CARE, - Healthcare, - Digital Health, - Quality of Life

On Thursday 10 December, the European Parliament Interest Group on Allergy & Asthma hosted a digital launch for guidelines created by the the Allergy & Asthma Youth Parliament: ‘’Growing up with Allergy and Asthma – How EU policymakers can support young allergy and asthma patients to live better lives’’.

The event was co-hosted by the Chair of the Interest Group of allergy and Asthma MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland/EPP), and its Vice-Chair MEP Tilly Metz (Luxembourg/Greens), while another of its Vice-Chairs, MEP Juozas Olekas (Lithuania/S&D) also participated in the discussions.

How to improve Information, Prevention and Care for young allergy and asthma patients?

During the meeting, attended by young patients, healthcare professionals and public health advocates from around the world, the Youth Parliament presented its policy recommendations on how to improve the lives of young patients living with allergy and asthma in Europe.

Advocating for a ‘youth-in-all-policies’ approach in EU policies, the Youth Parliament members addressed their recommendations to EU policymakers revolving around the principles of Inform, Prevent and Care:

  • Support initiatives to raise public awareness on allergy and asthma at local/national level; invest in Quality of Life research, including through a severe allergic disease register; and engage in a systematic dialogue with young patients.
  • Increase ambitions to address major risk factors such as outdoor and indoor air pollution, as well as on all risks linked to climate change; harmonise the rules of Precautionary Allergen Labelling in the EU; and improve labelling of harmful chemicals in non-food consumer products.
  • Ensure the standardisation of technologies for disease management; provide equal access and eliminate out-of-pocket treatment costs for allergy and asthma; and take the youth perspective fully on board when defining the research agenda on allergy and asthma treatment.

The challenges ahead: How to bring these recommendations into reality?

The event also included a panel discussion consisting of experts including Nikos Papadopoulos, professor of Allergology and Paediatric Allergy in Greece and the UK; Ioana Agache, past president of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI); Carmen Riggioni, Assembly Chair of EAACI Junior Members; and Mikaela Odemyr, EFA President.

Viewing the recommendations as ambitious yet fully realistic principles, the panellists discussed current issues such as digital health and existing research gaps in allergy and asthma care. Digital health is key to ensure better management and monitoring of diseases, and young patients can be strong advocates of digital solutions. In the meantime, it was noted that there is a need for stronger commitment and investment in research and innovation on allergy and asthma at the EU level.

The discussion also featured relevant EU policies currently under discussion, such as the EU Pharmaceutical Strategy and the EU Green Deal, and their potential to improve allergy and asthma health and prevention in Europe. 

Roundtable discussion: Engagement and interaction

The last session consisted of an open Roundtable discussion among MEP Juozas Olekas, the Youth Parliament members, and the participants to the event. Key topics addressed by young patients included the role of healthcare providers in raising awareness, the involvement of young patients in decision-making, and the need to build a European Health Union on the basis of a fit-for-youth approach. Moreover, the panellists addressed the role of national networks in increasing prevention by working with the EU institutions on topics such as air quality and pollen.

The Chair of the Interest Group on Allergy & Asthma, Sirpa Pietikäinen, concluded the event expressing her gratitude for this youth initiative, and her willingness to work closely with young patients to ensure their voice is heard on all policies affecting their health.

You can review the recording of the event in EFA’s Youtube Channel.

You can read the recommendations from the European Allergy & Asthma Youth Parliament here.

Interested in joining the European Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament, and inform the Interest Group of Allergy and Asthma? Learn more