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26 February 2021
Asthma , COPD, Allergy, Other Diseases
PREVENT, - Tobacco & Smoking, CARE, - Healthcare, - Air Quality

On 3rd February, the European Commission published its Beating Cancer Plan a signature programme that devices the commitment by the European Union to coordinate action on cancer across its Member States in prevention, treatment, and care. EFA welcomes this EU health initiative as a pilot model to achieve change for all people with allergy and airways diseases.

As chronic disease patient representatives, we fully support the EU institutions in their approach to cancer: the Beating Cancer Plan covers a broad range of factors from care to prevention, and will address serious risk factors that impact not only cancer but all forms of respiratory health, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The EU’s Beating Cancer Plan will definitely serve to show how goal-sharing across Europe can shape a stronger European Health Union. With a planned €4 billion budget for Member States , Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programme, the Beating Cancer plan aims to strengthen Member States’ healthcare facilities for a stronger, pan-European response to cancer.

The Beating Cancer Plan will look at implementing a ‘Health in All Policies’ approach to reflect the views of all stakeholder groups and patients, as well as the European Parliament and Member States. It will operate in four key areas:

  • Prevention
  • Early detection
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Quality of life of cancer patients and survivors

The Plan activities will also embed the opportunities presented by digitalisation and new technologies, by investing more into research and innovation to support Member States in addressing cancer.

Achieving a tobacco-free Europe

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Europe, it leads to chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, and yet, 25% of the European population consume tobacco.

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan will address this prevailing issue by reducing the tobacco use in Europe to less than 5% by 2040, creating what EFA Members have been for long advocating at national level, a “tobacco-free generation”. This will be achieved through stricter rules on novel smoking products, adaptation to markets trends, enforcement of the EU tobacco control framework and the creation of smoke-free environments.

EFA is delighted that many of the asks to address smoking that we highlighted in our response to the consultative process leading to this Beating Cancer Plan have been heard, especially:

  • the need to address novel tobacco processes, that need to undergo adequate analysis on its health impacts or its potential to increase successful smoking cessation
  • the renewal of the political will to smoke-free environments with new Council Recommendations by 2023, an aim foreseen in the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), signed by the EU and Member States.

Reducing environmental pollution

EFA is also thrilled to collaborate on reducing air pollution impacts on cancer, as it also has a huge impact on respiratory health for people living with allergy, asthma and COPD.

Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor affects the entire European population and is responsible for a wide range of health effects, including

Through Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the EU commits to integrating the European Green Deal and Zero Pollution Action Plan to revise the EU’s air quality standards by 2022 to be more closely aligned with the WHO recommendations.

We however think the EU should fully align with the latest scientific evidence on long and short-term effects of air pollution, leading to disease and loss of quality of life, and to death 400,000 premature deaths each year. EFA also calls on the EU to improve the public information on air quality to the public so that it is accessible and targeted to vulnerable groups.

Ensuring high standards in cancer care

The Beating Cancer Plan has a great ambition to fully explore the EU health mandate for the benefits of Member States and patients. There are many specific initiatives that could be in the long-term replicated for allergy and respiratory disease, and at EFA we will be specifically looking at the following:

  • An EU Network linking recognised National Comprehensive Cancer Centres in every Member State, an interesting way to coordinate cancer care across Member States. EFA has been long advocating for the creation of Centers of Excellence for allergy and airways diseases and the cancer model could show the path for allergy, asthma and COPD patients
  • The Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment for All is a flagship initiative that will couple technology with patient needs to bridge treatment gaps and make the most of available time after diagnosis. It has the potential to have a more patient centric approach to treatment for difficult forms of chronic disease

A new Partnership on Personalised Medicine, a long-term ask by allergy and asthma patients, who live with those and other chronic diseases and sometimes lack for solutions that really work for them. Moreover, the plan foresees a roadmap towards personalised cancer prevention, which is a hugely welcome initiative to shift attention to prevention.The EU will also launch an ‘EU Mobile App for Cancer Prevention’ to guide individuals on ways to reduce their risk of developing cancer as well as a personalised cancer-risk assessment. The increasing digitalisation of healthcare will be utilised by the EU to tackle cancer, with funding of up to €250 million from the Digital Europe programme.

EFA is positive about Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, which commits to including the needs of patients in every aspect, from prevention to diagnosis and care.

You can read the European Commission Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan here, as well as EFA response to the consultation on the Plan here.

The Breathe Vision for 2030, which addresses many of the risk factors in the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is available for endorsement here.