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Organisation

In November 1991, patient associations from 8 European countries (Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the UK) came together in Stockholm with the goal to create a federation advocating for the needs of allergy and asthma patients across Europe. They founded the European Federation of Asthma and Allergy Associations (EFA).

For 30 years EFA has united allergy and asthma patients under the same voice. Nowadays, our federation represents 45 member organisations across 26 countries in Europe. Part of this exponential growth is linked to EFA’s disease areas as, in 2003, EFA also started covering chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as many of its members at the time. As a consequence, EFA also changed its name into the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations.

The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) is an independent non-profit organisation with its central office located in Brussels, Belgium. EFA connects 45 allergy, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients’ associations in 26 countries.

The highest governing body of EFA is its General Assembly, composed of Members, who elect EFA Board and validate plans and reports. The EFA Board steers these plans and reports on behalf of the membership, supported by the EFA Secretariat who facilitates and organises EFA activities.

All EFA governance documents are made public. EFA publishes an annual Activity Report, including financial information. EFA has a Code of Ethics and Conduct, as well as internal rules for its functioning and founding statutes. EFA is registered as an NGO in Sweden (no. 802402-4526) and employer in Belgium (BE0851183611).

EFA Board is composed of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary to the Board, a Treasurer, and Board Members. All of them are patient leaders and patient representatives arising from EFA Members. They are elected for a two years mandate and can be re-elected for a maximum on two full additional mandates.

 

Marcia PodestàPresident

Marcia PodestàPresident

I am the President of Food Allergy Italia, an association founded in 2002 focusing specifically on food allergies. I have taken part in several (inter)national studies on quality of life with food allergies. Being a lawyer, I also perform trainings for doctors, nurses and food business operators on issues related to legislation on food labelling. Board Member since 2020 and President since 2023.

+32 2 227 27 12
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Armando RuizVice-President

Armando RuizVice-President

Armando Ruiz serves as International Manager at the Spanish Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (FENAER). In this role, he is responsible for leading the organisation globally to establish alliances and implement projects that improve the gaps between innovation, medical assistance, and the daily lives of patients. Armando is the project manager of the National Patient’s Expert Committee of Spanish Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC). He is founder of the Digital Therapeutics Club.

+32 2 227 27 20
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Fríða Rún ÞórðardóttirSecretary

Fríða Rún ÞórðardóttirSecretary

Frida has served as the chairman of the Icelandic asthma and allergy association for 10 years (15 years with the organization). She is a dietitian at the University hospital of Iceland working in the food services, responsible for the specialty and allergy diet, and the food product database. Major experience is within the allergy sector, but there she teaches courses and writes educational material. Frida is involved in an air quality working group administered by the Icelandic government, enforcing Clean air Europe.

+32 2 227 27 20
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Christine StrousBoard Member

Christine StrousBoard Member

Since 2002 I am working for and with lung patients at Longfonds, Lung Foundation Netherlands. At the moment as Team Lead Corporate Affairs and Senior Manager Public Affairs. My expertise and affinities consists of a combination of strategic policy making, political advocacy and voicing patients’ needs. For years I have been working on EFA’s top priority prevention subjects of air quality and a smoke free generation. I enjoy collaborating with all sorts of stakeholders to achieve our goals for the prevention of lung diseases and realizing a better life for lung patients. I will represent the board, among others, in the European Lung Health Group.

+32 2 227 27 20
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Celine DemoulinBoard Member

Celine DemoulinBoard Member

I am the President of AFPRAL (Association Française pour la Prévention des Allergies). My journey as a food allergy expert started a decade ago. As a patient expert, I have taken part in several actions for allergy prevention, such as webinars, workshops, international working groups. I gave presentations to medical experts about patient perspective. I am also invited to collaborate with public French Institutions on different subjects related to allergies.

+32 2 227 27 20
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Susanna PalkonenDirector

Susanna PalkonenDirector

For over 15 years now, I work in the allergy, asthma and COPD patient movement. Being a patient myself, I am passionate about patients’ involvement in health, environment and research policy and partnership approach to achieve this. I represent EFA in many initiatives, last five years I served in the EC DG Research and Innovation’s Horizon 2020 Scientific Panel for Health, I was in the board of European Patients Forum EPF for 12 years and now I am Chair of the Patient Access Partnership PACT . As a Director I support the EFA Board and lead our busy and fabulous Secretariat.

+32 2 227 27 21
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Isabel ProañoDirector of Policy and Communications

Isabel ProañoDirector of Policy and Communications

I lead EFA policy and communications work. I joined EFA in 2014 to help EFA patients’ community improve awareness allergy, asthma and COPD. As Deputy Director and carer, I am moved by the need to ultimately bring positive policy change and action to patients and their families. I represent EFA in policy meetings, particularly within EFA’s care portfolio.

+32 2 227 27 12
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Valeria RamiconiProgramme Manager

Valeria RamiconiProgramme Manager

In 2020 I joined EFA to lead the management and implementation of EFA’s projects, including the EU funded ones. I have 10 years of experience in the field of public health and international development, both in NGOs and for-profit companies.  My commitment is to ensure that the patients’ perspective is always at the centre of all EFA’s projects and that patients continue being the driver of EFA’s activities. 

+32 2 227 27 13
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Panagiotis ChaslaridisSenior Policy Advisor

Panagiotis ChaslaridisSenior Policy Advisor

I contribute to EFA since 2018 to develop advocacy and communications initiatives vis-á-vis the institutions and other stakeholders in the context of specific policy dossiers. EFA’s mission is fully aligned with my beliefs on the most pressing problems patients face in our days, such as participation in policymaking, the right to quality care, and the need for a healthier ambient environment. I am focal point for EFA’s prevention portfolio.

+32 2 227 27 20
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Irina CsenderPrevention & Healthcare Policy Officer

Irina CsenderPrevention & Healthcare Policy Officer

I joined EFA in 2022 as a passionate young professional interested in the protection of social rights of citizens. I have a background in European Union law, and previously I have worked with several EU and international stakeholders in order to contribute to advancements of EU legislation in various policy areas. I am interested in developing advocacy and policy strategies for patients with allergies and airway diseases so that they have their rights properly represented and addressed before all relevant policymakers and stakeholders across the EU and beyond. I am supporting the policy work at EFA on both prevention and care related issues.

+32 2 227 27 20
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Anton Basenko Community Engagement Manager

Anton Basenko Community Engagement Manager

As a passionate public health advocate and human rights activist, I joined EFA in 2023. I take it as a great opportunity to invest all my experience as a patient and expert into capacity building and raising the voices and visibility of EFA communities. My motto is “Our lives matter” and patients and community mobilisation are what I’ve been doing over last 15 years. My background is infectious diseases (HIV, TB, Hepatitis) and my personal motivation is my diagnosis (I was diagnosed with asthma at age 12 and COPD at age of 16). I hope to bring added value to EFA and its communities.

+32 2 227 27 12
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Agata PapottoPrevention & Healthcare Manager

Agata PapottoPrevention & Healthcare Manager

At EFA I am responsible for the design, management and implementation of several EU and international projects. I have a background in clinical psychology and before settling in Brussels in 2019, I worked in a public health context in Italy. In order to engage and connect with individuals and organisations promoting health and wellbeing at the EU-level, I decided to move to Brussels where I joined a variety of NGOs that enabled me to enter the world of EU-funded initiatives and project management. My expertise mainly focuses on physical and mental health, innovation, green and digital twin transition. Being a qualified psychologist with a strong interest in public health, I am proud to contribute to EFA’s mission of advocating for better health and improving the lives of all people living with allergy and airways diseases.

+32 2 227 27 34
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Angelica RossiJunior Project Officer

Angelica RossiJunior Project Officer

I start working at EFA in August 2022 after completing my studies in healthcare policy and management. I joined EFA to advocate for better access to care at European level, and so I can continue to learn more about healthcare. My position as Junior Project Officer helps me to be involved in multidisciplinary projects, and challenge and improve my organisation skills. My first contact with patients with allergies and asthma, and their struggles, was on Erasmus and this helped me to want to raise awareness about these conditions.

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Roberto BlandinoCommunications Manager

Roberto BlandinoCommunications Manager

I am at EFA to help the organisation be heard by its stakeholders and to improve communication procedures and tools. I joined EFA in 2023 after having held marketing and communications roles in research institutes, companies and consulting firms for about 20 years. As the father of a young patient with respiratory and food allergies, I am totally committed to supporting the EFA community and advocating for their rights.

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Soraia RibeiroDigital Communications Developer

Soraia RibeiroDigital Communications Developer

I joined EFA in 2023 to strengthen EFA's corporate visual identity and branding. I have a background working in international organizations and in the non-profit sector in the area of strategic and digital communications, storytelling, media and advocacy. I support EFA's mission through impactful visibility materials and digital content.

+32 2 227 27 12
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Polina PerederaJunior Communications Officer

Polina PerederaJunior Communications Officer

I joined EFA in 2023 to support policy and communication team with projects' communication and campaigns. After graduating with a degree in marketing, I worked on social and environmental issues in European organisations. As a young communications professional at EFA, I work to ensure the needs of people with allergy, asthma and COPD are heard and understood at all policy levels. I am dedicated to making Europe a better place for patients living with allergy and airways diseases, professionally and personally.

+32 2 227 27 12
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Patient and patients representatives’ direct feedback is crucial to help stimulate policy discussions and inspire new approaches to resolve most of the problems confronting them on a daily basis.

At present, EFA gathers 45 national patient associations representing 26 European countries and over allergy, asthma and COPD patients living in Europe.

We are currently looking for a Communications Manager, to join our team as soon as possible. Interested? Please apply by the 28th of February. More details in the job description.

Interested in becoming an EFA partner? Support us!