05 October 2022
PREVENT, CARE, - Healthcare

EFA contributed to the consultation on the EU4Health Programme budget with calls for patient-centred investment in prevention and care for respiratory health, for a 2023 budget that will bring new horizons in disease management and will empower patients and their rights across the EU.

As part of their stakeholder engagement practices, the Commission organised a public consultation on the objectives, priorities and strategic orientations of the EU Health Programme for 2023. The input given will help shape the 2023 annual work programme of the EU health budget (EU4Health programme), which will dedicate a total of 5.3 billion for health action until 2027.

The health community presented a united voice in its asks for ambitious EU action across a variety of health policies and in showcasing existing gaps and needs. Alongside sister organisations such as the European Patients’ Forum (EPF) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS), EFA responded from the perspective of the chronic respiratory perspectives, representing the asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients communities.

More EU action to address gaps in prevention and research

Our recommendations to the European Commission focused on the need to enhance prevention, with benefit to other chronic diseases such as allergy, asthma and COPD, and digital health, but also patient empowerment. Health systems can benefit greatly from stronger European Reference Networks, including expanded mandates to address complex non-communicable diseases such as allergy, asthma and COPD.

Regarding primary prevention, it is crucial that the EU acts at both the individual and systemic levels, including strengthening health literacy on the one hand and improving crisis preparedness and communications on the other. However, it is equally important to counter tangible and predictable environmental and climate-related health risks e.g. through policies that ensure clean air and a better adapation to the climate change effects on health.  

On secondary prevention, EFA conveyed that the EU must prioritise treatment development for diseases with huge unmet needs, such as COPD. To ensure patient-centred care and research, patients should be at the core of discussions and decisions that affect their health.

Stronger digital health for empowered patients

As in every sector, the exchange of data is a turning point in health and it is expected to attract much of the policy and regulatory attention in the years to come. Provided that patient centricity and data is safeguarded, digital tools and applications can be highly effective in improving prevention, disease management, and delivery of healthcare.

The future EU legislation and action on digital health should help facilitate the development of patient-friendly, interoperable and secure digital and digitally-driven innovation. As availability without access is of no use, equality aspects will be crucial for this setup: frameworks to enhance digital literacy must be a key EU priority so that no patient is left behind.

The case for health impact assessment in EU policy

Finally, in the spirit of making EU policies more patient-centred, there are further steps that the EU must take. One of them is to include patient involvement in expert groups and advisory bodies. Another is to conduct health impact assessment prior to the proposal of EU legislation, include a health-in-all-policies approach to inform all EU decision-making, to ensure that the health of the population, and in particular of vulnerable groups, are taken into account at all levels.

Together with the whole health policy community, EFA is expecting the adoption of a forward-looking budget for 2023 in the coming months, one that will bring new horizons for disease prevention, management and care in the EU, and will empower patients and their rights.

You can access the full EFA response here.