Carla Jones
EFA President
From an organisation of eight members to one of 42, EFA’s continuous growth has pivotal in bringing core issues faced by allergy, asthma and COPD patients to the European and global level, with thanks to our leadership over the 30 years.

While at EFA we pride ourselves on having a forward-looking mission to create a better Europe for patients, 2021 was a milestone that marked the 30 years since EFA was founded. From an organisation of eight members to one of 42, EFA’s continuous growth has pivotal in bringing core issues faced by allergy, asthma and COPD patients to the European and global level, with thanks to our leadership over the 30 years.

2021 was a pivotal year of hope. We welcomed the vaccine roll-out which gave priority to many from our patient community to receive protection from the coronavirus. Unfortunately, while the pandemic is not yet over, our work built up the collective patient voice by bringing our community and those we work with, and want to reach out to, together online.

Throughout 2021 EFA supported our members in building their skills as advocates through our Meet & Greet – a EU training series and our tailored national capacity building sessions. We supported their action by shedding light on how patients can influence EU policy and get involved with EU projects, as well as develop specific skills to increase their organisations’ impact at the national level. Our six Working Groups met frequently to advise EFA on key EU legislations and policies, and we thank them for their dedicated work.

This year we have also heightened understanding of the healthcare needs of patients living with allergy, asthma and COPD, to build strong foundations for patient advocacy into the next years. Our upcoming DIG_IT report, based on surveys from asthma and COPD patients in 2021, will supplement our continuous efforts pushing for a patient-centred approach to the digital transformation of health and care. Our work in the digital sphere also featured the successful launch of BREATHE Vision for 2030, as the European Lung Health Group positioned a policy briefing on the future European Health Data Space Regulation. Meanwhile, the robust recommendations arising from the Atopic Eczema Consensus Europe project will bridge the gap between understanding atopic eczema and living and caring for atopic eczema.

EFA’s strong and sustained voice for patient advocacy was influential in policymaking in 2021, especially in policies where we have been consistently bringing the patients’ perspective.

We were vocal and determined, asking for science-based emission pollutant levels that put health first, a leadership that served to grant EFA a seat in the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform, led by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions. In 2021, we laid the groundwork for an upcoming debate on the tobacco and smoking legislation and were pleased that current tobacco gaps such as smoking products and smokefree places will be assessed through the Europe’s landmark Beating Cancer plan.

Moreover, we have engaged in the majority of the legislative revisions held in the European Pharmaceutical Strategy, an EU ambition to improve the offer of medicines and their effective access. EFA, in close consultation with members, identified the needs and expectations of allergy, asthma and COPD patients in terms of medicines, and officially communicated them in the policies governing medicines for children and for lower prevalence diseases, as well as EU interventions in the prioritisation for the development of medicines.

EFA also led the groundwork of the European Parliament Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma, through organisation of a high-level policy event on patient unmet needs, during which I had the honour to deliver a speech on behalf of our members first time as EFA president.

So what’s next? How will EFA evolve in the upcoming years with our patient members?

EFA will continue to centre the patient voice in a broader range of topics, from healthcare to climate change, always focusing on our objectives INFORM, PREVENT and CARE. We are guided the Breathe Vision, and by patient evidence arising from our various and upcoming projects.

In 2021 we were pleased to welcome a new board, of which I am proud to be President. This Board will serve our ever-expanding patient community and lead in advocacy at the global level.

In 2021 we welcomed three new Members (Respiriamo Insieme -Italy-, Alerji ile Yasam Dernegi -Turkey- and Institute Atopika – Serbia-). As our membership grows, so does our pan-European voice and multi-disease coverage.

We will also continue to build up the next generation of patient advocates: this last year the European Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament used its policy recommendations to influence the future of Europe in its approach to healthcare for young people.

We look forward to building a healthier and better future with all of our members, EFA sustainable corporate partners, the European Commission, our partner organisations and patient experts, so that all patients with allergy, asthma and COPD are empowered in their own healthcare and live better lives.

On a personal note; I am humbled to serve this community and thank you all for your continuing involvement as EFA Members, as we need your involvement and your voice so together we can improve the lives of everyone in Europe living with allergy, asthma or COPD.

With warmest regards,

Carla Jones