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Photo: Elio Germani

The programme opened with a workshop on EU advocacy that provided participants with an overview of the EU institutions and how they interact with one another to create EU legislation.

With that introduction in mind, participants took part in a role play activity to act as patient advocates and MEPs to prepare for meetings and put forward their calls to action to create better healthcare for allergy and asthma patients.

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Photo: Elio Germani

Bringing young patient voices to the heart of the European Parliament

The programme did not just entail theoretical steps into influencing the EU, but also allowed the young patients to engage directly in advocacy. Two Youth Parliament members delivered keynote speeches at the Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma event “For an EU NCD Initiative that prevents and cares - Connecting the dots for better allergy and asthma health in Europe”. In their address, speakers Eimear O’Rourke and Dunja Stojanović brought to attention the unique challenges that young allergy and asthma patients face in their daily lives, and called on the European policymakers present to consider their needs as they address new developments in EU health policy.

Watch the recording of their speeaches here.

 

 

After the event, the participants met with Interest Group Chair Sirpa Pietikäinen to learn more about her work as an MEP, her background as she entered politics, and how to be an effective young voice in the political sphere.

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Photo: Elio Germani

An opportunity for patient advocates to understand how Brussels works

While there was a high focus on the work of the European Parliament and how advocates can work with MEPs, the programme also provided participants with a broader understanding of the EU. The young advocates visited the European Committee of the Regions to learn more about how the EU works in local and regional areas. They also followed a tour of the EU lobby system with focus on chemicals, tobacco and pharmaceutical to also learn more about the other actors in EU advocacy.

Learning, networking and being empowered!

To compliment the learnings around EU institutions, the Youth Parliament also hosted a civil society networking dinner with representatives from both health and youth-focused civil society. The evening discussions centred around finding your voice as a patient and youth advocate. We were pleased to welcome speakers from the European Health Parliament, Young European Liberals, Young European Greens, European Liver Patients Association, European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention, and the Swedish Allergy and Asthma Association who shed light onto their work as civil society advocates and the success and challenges they face.

Participants reported feeling empowered by the programme to use the knowledge gained in their advocacy. As the healthcare landscape is constantly shifting and young people face various changes in their lives, it is important for young patients to have tools at hand to advocate for their own needs in the policy landscape.

The programme was not only an opportunity for young patients to develop their advocacy skills, but they also were able to connect as a young patient community with shared experiences despite living in different places from across Europe.

To find out more about the European Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament and how to get involved, click here.