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01 July 2010

Just after the EU Open Health Forum on the 30th of June, EFA reunited many stakeholders at the European Parliament in Brussels to make the case for strong European action and cooperation to combat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The absolute key is to promote early diagnosis. Many of the action points we are asking for in the 7 point Call echo what has been said in the Open Health Forum: there is a need for strong prevention, COPD is an example of cross cutting health issue which also needs to be addressed through research and environment policies. Investing to fight health issues is cost effective: the annual financial burden of COPD amounts to over €50 billion. Acting now through a coordinated EU strategy to combat chronic respiratory diseases would help reduce these costs dramatically, and improve the quality of life and care for the 44 million of Europeans who currently live with this disease. In the EFA Book on COPD in Europe,which was presented during the event, patients and their associations highlighted the existing shortfalls but also successes in the prevention, diagnosis and care of COPD in 12 European countries. The problems are now identified, and can’t be ignored anymore as prevalence of COPD is still increasing worryingly. The need for action on COPD was pointed out by speakers from different angles, including a patient and a scientific point of view as well as the perspective from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers. EFA insists that coordinated action including the EU, Member States and relevant stakeholders rather than dispersed initiatives as it is now the case, is the way forward in successfully combating COPD. On behalf of EFA, I would like to thank the 45 participants we welcomed at this event, many of whom signed our call to action, for their support. I would also like to thank all the speakers for contributing towards making this event a success, and MEP Catherine Stihler who hosted this event for her dedication in fighting this disease.  EFA has been committed in making COPD a political priority since 2003; we hope our call for action will be heard by the EU institutions and member states. Marianella Salapatas, EFA President.