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15 October 2018
Asthma , COPD, Allergy, Food Allergy, Other Diseases
- Healthcare

On September 20 the WHO Regional Committee for Europe adopted a decision in plenary to accredit 19 not for profit organisations, including EFA, into ‘regional non-state actors’. In other words, EFA is from now in an official relationship with the WHO Europe to represent the voice of the European patients living with allergy, asthma and COPD as mandated by our membership towards European level institutions. This will mean in practice that EFA can present to the WHO and the member countries the patient evidence arising from our projects, such as the recent Quality of Life Report on Atopic Eczema Itching for Life or the current Access Asthma and COPD Survey.

See our joint statement and the video.

Through the engagement with non-state actors, WHO expects to create a wider reach and impact for its policies than just working with the WHO member countries. From EFA, we expect this opportunity will help us be more involved with the WHO to help creating policies and programmes that are more patient centred and have real impact on the ground to people with allergy, asthma and COPD and involve formally our members at the national level. For example today, we are part of the expert group reviewing the WHO air quality guidelines, and with this new status, we are striving for involvement in policies related to care and their inequalities – for your health!.

Learn more about WHO engagement with non-state actors here.

This was the first time EFA was attending the annual meeting of the Regional Committee and we started by forging the links. Many groups like us presented pre-prepared written statements on the topics on the meeting agenda, showing their worry of progress for example on immunization or support for the goals. Statements are highly visible and an opportunity that EFA might use in the future to raise awareness. WHO sessions have everything prepared in advance so that each session ends with a resolution that member countries can approve, and WHO can go ahead and act. The Resolutions pushed during this regional committee were on public health response and preparedness and advancing public health, our health systems strengthening for universal health coverage, better outcomes (for patients) and fighting inequalities, roadmap to implement the sustainable development goals (based on WHO European Health 2020 strategy) or mens health strategy.

To see all meeting documents and resolutions here.

The European Health Report 2018 published in this meeting revealed that adults’ smoking rates in Europe on average are the highest among all WHO regions. Generally, mortality from all illnesses and injuries is on decline, but there are inequalities between sexes and regions. Perhaps the most worrying result is that among 11 year old boys was up to 9 percent smoke on weekly basis.