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01 April 2021

EFA participated in the European Patients’ Forum response to the consultation on the European Commission proposal to strengthen the mandate of the European Centre of Disease Control and Prevention. For us, the future ECDC should further extend the mandate to encompass chronic diseases, and engage patient and consumer organisations to help shape information and public messaging.

As we reported late 2020, the European Commission is advancing towards a European Health Union, an excellent initiative that will help the prevention and care of allergy and airways diseases in Europe. In practical terms, the EU ambition will be built around stronger EU health security framework, improve supply of medicines, enhance preparedness and response in times of crisis, and better epidemiological surveillance.

One of the current bodies subject to change is the European Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), an EU agency based in Sweden, that has been fundamental in collecting COVID-19 epidemiological data from EU-Member states, supporting some Member States, and communicating about the pandemic with an EU lens.

The proposal

The European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation to reinforce the ECDC mandate so that it may support the Commission and the Member States in the following areas:

  • epidemiological surveillance via integrated systems enabling real-time surveillance;
  • preparedness and response planning, reporting and auditing;
  • provision of non-binding recommendations and options for risk management;
  • capacity to mobilise and deploy a EU Health Task Force to assist local response in the Member States;
  • building a network of EU reference laboratories and a network for substances of human origin.

Our response

EFA participated in the European Patients’ Forum response to the consultation on the European Commission Proposal highlighting two important things.

Further extend the ECDC mandate to encompass chronic diseases. Activities that already come into the remit of the ECDC – health education, health literacy, behaviour change – are highly relevant to the prevention of infectious and chronic diseases and health promotion. These activities could be enlarged to address disease prevention, guidelines, recommendations, and programmes addressing health determinants. The ECDC should be also resourced to monitor health systems’ capacity with regard to chronic diseases. It has become clear during the COVID-19 pandemic that when a system’s capacity is overwhelmed by a communicable disease, it creates a far-reaching detrimental impact on other diseases and can severely harm patients.

Engage stakeholders and the wider public. Patient and consumer organisations also help to shape information, communication, and public messaging to ensure it is optimal, function as effective interlocutors on patient concerns, and as dissemination hubs to their communities. We believe the addition of a permanent, sustainable stakeholder engagement platform similar to that of the EMA, and other agencies like EFSA and ECHA, would enhance the ECDC’s public engagement, add to its credibility and help raise public awareness of ECDC as an expert body and a reference point for trustworthy information.

The full EPF’s response is on the Have your Say portal.

More information about the ECDC consultation and the legislative process.