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Ensuring Universal Access Requires a Collaborative Approach

The European Patients’ Forum (EPF) is an umbrella organisation that works with patients’ groups in public health and health advocacy across Europe. Our 74 members represent specific chronic disease groups at EU level or are national coalitions of patients. EPF reflects the voice of an estimated 150 million patients affected by various chronic diseases throughout Europe.

With the sustainability of European health systems at risk and the equitable access to quality healthcare at stake, it is crucial the EU sets the tone for public health policies and patient-centred reforms for Member States and local governments.

The current debate on access to healthcare is a prime example of where a substantial and coordinated action from all stakeholders is needed. As stated in our factsheet on medical devices, EPF calls on the set-up of a broad framework with all interested parties, including med tech companies, to encourage equitable access to quality medical devices for patients according to their needs, not their means.

We need to identify or develop appropriate frameworks and methodologies to meaningfully incorporate patient evidence at all stages of the medicines and technologies R&D cycle and availability decisions with the involvement of patients and their representative organisations. Only a collaborative and holistic approach can bring sustainable solutions.

When it comes to affordability of healthcare products, our recent patient survey on access depicts a very alarming situation in the EU. Far too many patients are confronted to financial hardship as a result of healthcare costs. About 60% of respondents have faced difficulties at least sometimes due to spending on healthcare and a shocking 36% indicated forgoing or postponing treatments at least 1 time in the past 12 months.

 

EPF

 

This has to change. Together with its members, EPF launched a one-year campaign on Access to Healthcare, calling all stakeholders to come along and reflect on potential avenues to ensure universal health coverage by 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on health. In that regard, one of the most influential player is the European Parliament. As the democratically elected representatives of EU citizens, MEPs have the legitimacy to hold the Commission and Member States accountable for their actions or lack thereof in the field of public health.

5 high-profile MEPs decided to champion and support the policy work of our campaign. MEPs Miriam Dalli (S&D, Malta), Kateřina KONEČNÁ (GUE/NGL, Czech Republic), Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, Bulgaria), Sirpa Pietikäainen (EPP, Finland) and Paul Rübig (EPP, Austria) joins us in calling for more EU co-operation to achieve the ambitious objective of the UN SDG.

Patients are facing unacceptable barriers to healthcare services, resulting in aggravated health conditions and financial situations. We need transformative measures taking into account the recommendations from all relevant stakeholders.

At the end of the day, ensuring universal access to healthcare products is a political choice. We urge decision-makers both at European and national levels to take positive action to show they put patients’ needs first, and that the European Union’s core values of equity and solidarity are not mere rhetoric but a real political priority” Nicola Bedlington, EPF Secretary General.

More information: www.eu-patient.eu - info@eu-patient.eu.