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01 April 2021
Asthma , COPD, Other Diseases

Throughout most of 2020, EFA and eight other organisations representing patients and healthcare professionals came together as the informal European Lung Health Group to form a common vision for lung health in Europe. The ensuing Breathe Vision for 2030 outlines our collective ambition for 2030 in awareness, prevention, care and research, and builds on the realities that COVID-19 has brought to lung health.

On 27 January, the European Parliament Lung Health Group (#MEPLung) hosted the launch of the Breathe Vision for 2030 through the digital event ‘Towards a European Health Union: A BREATHE Vision for the future’. The event was chaired by MEPs István Ujhelyi (S&D – Hungary) and Željana Zovko (EPP - Croatia), members of the MEP Lung Health Group, while MEP Seán Kelly (EPP – Ireland) also attended to share his views on lung health action needs in Europe. High-level representatives from European public organisations,  Pierre Delsaux, Deputy Director General of the European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE); and Jill Farrington from the WHO/Europe Division of noncommunicable disease shared their action on lung health and welcomed the Vision.

Harnessing the moment: EU policies towards a Breathe Vision for 2030

All of the speakers from the European Parliament, Commission and WHO/Europe praised the Breathe Vision from 2030 as a welcome initiative that fits well into the ambition of the European Health Union. In the wake of COVID-19, there are numerous policies currently in the making at the EU level that could address the important gaps listed in the Breathe Vision: a new European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), the EU Pharmaceutical Strategy, the strengthening of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. These initiatives aim to improve prevention, health preparedness and access to care. Over the next seven years, they will be funded by EUR 5,1bn from the new EU Health Programme (EU4Health).

These EU policies present crucial opportunities to tackle diseases affecting the lungs, as stressed by EFA President Mikaela Odemyr and Prof. Thierry Troosters, past president of the European Respiratory Society. 1 in 8 deaths are due to lung disease, while 30% of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients visit the emergency room at least once a year, a situation that is not only alarming, but persisting and unacceptable. The Breathe Vision sets clear, realistic goals to be achieved by 2030. To this end, policy synergies and working closely with stakeholders are keys to success.

The 5 key pillars for healthier lungs by 2030

Representatives of the European Lung Health Group presented the main principles of the Breathe Vision for 2030: Gergely Meszaros from the Pulmonary Hypertension Europe highlighted the importance of raising awareness on respiratory disease, including better data to help improve diagnosis. Anne-Marie Baird from Lung Cancer Europe focused on improving prevention (currently only 3% of the EU health budget), by addressing risk factors such as air pollution and tobacco use.

Hilde de Keyser from Cystic Fibrosis Europe emphasised the need to ensure timely and the right care by enabling multi-disciplinarity care and access to treatment. Liam Galvin from European Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and Related Disorder Federation stressed that advancing research into lung health would address a big unmet need, and patient priorities should be central in this process. Finally, Paul Sommerfeld from Tuberculosis Europe Coalition discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lung health services while noting that research breakthroughs such as the vaccine can benefit other areas too.

Closing the event, Kjeld Hansen of the European Lung Foundation stressed the importance of working together to build common solutions, and the European Lung Health Group presents a success story of doing so. MEPs Željana Zovko and Seán Kelly agreed, pointing out that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis should be used as stimulus for improvement in prevention, care, and protection of vulnerable citizens.

Endorse the Breathe Vision for 2030 for better lung health!

Following the official launch with the European Parliament Lung Health Group, the Breathe Vision for 2030 is now published online. The European Lung Health Group encourages all interested organisations to endorse the Vision and work together to see our common lung health vision for 2030 come true.

For more information about the launch, you can access the event report here.