EFA Manifesto for 2014 European Parliament Elections

Manifesto

Three priority areas and fourteen actions to improve the health and quality of life of people with asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Europe

Asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are among the most common chronic diseases in Europe, affecting millions of EU citizens and imposing significant burdens on European healthcare, social systems and the patients themselves.

Asthma and allergy are the most common chronic diseases in children and the leading cause of school absences, emergency department visits and hospitalisations. 30 million people in Europe are affected by asthma, with six million of these people suffering from severe symptoms of the disease. When it comes to allergy, it is estimated that 1 in every 2 Europeans will suffer from an allergy by 2015. While the main cause of COPD is tobacco smoke, we do not yet know the very origins of allergy and asthma. COPD remains largely unknown: it affects 44 million people in Europe and is expected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to become the third leading cause of death by 2030. Despite this, COPD is vastly underreported in the mass media and very few people have heard about it, placing early diagnosis, which is key for successful management of COPD, at risk.

The Members of the European Parliament, as the only democratically elected representatives of more than 500 million Europeans, should act in the interest of EU citizens and public health. You have already contributed in many ways to improve the quality of our lives and our well-being. Nevertheless, many challenges still remain. It is up to you now to rise to these challenges, tackle the most pressing issues, help patients with asthma, allergy and COPD to live uncompromised lives and help prevent these diseases.

We are calling on you to commit yourselves to the following priorities in the area of health:

1. Develop an EU strategy on chronic diseases with disease specific chapters

As an outcome of the EU reflection process on chronic diseases, dating back to 2010, an EU strategy with disease specific chapters should be developed. The strategy would enable us to effectively tackle incidence and risk factors, while helping us deal with negative consequences for the health of affected people, their families and the economies of the EU and its Member States.

2. Invest in prevention – tackle health determinants

2.1. Reduce tobacco consumption through a stricter tobacco products directive
2.2. Implement the smoke free Europe recommendations
2.3. Introduce a better strategy on outdoor air pollution with limit values in line with WHO recommended levels
2.4. Adopt a strategy on indoor air quality that includes the home and the workplace
2.5. Include pollen monitoring under the Clean Air Programme for Europe
2.6. Reduce exposure to chemicals in everyday life
2.7. Introduce labelling of all ingredients in the ingredients list of food products and in the long-term perspective, abolish the “may contain” labelling for allergens

Bearing in mind the principle of health in all policies, all EU activities should take into account their impact on public health. The objective of improving the health of European citizens should be overarching all EU decisions.

3. Help ensuring equal access to care for each patient

3.1. Eliminate discrimination of patients based upon their disease or condition
3.2. Reduce health inequalities as regards access to care and quality of treatment within and between Member States
3.3. Initiate or boost patients’ participation in decision-making in all areas relating to their health and wellbeing, particularly concerning the placement of medicinal products and medical devices on the market and their reimbursement, priority setting for studies, trials and research, through promotion, facilitation and support of programmes in Member States, ensuring funding for patients’ organisations
3.4. Strengthen patients’ safety
3.5. Improve accuracy and quality of information to patients and boost health literacy
3.6. Ensure early and accurate diagnosis of allergies and chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD, through increased training for healthcare professionals, development of national programmes, set up of registers and spirometry testing
3.7. Ensure that more funds are allocated for EU health policy and programmes and prioritise investments in research of allergic and respiratory diseases

Better treatment and healthcare contribute to the long-term objective of the EU to guarantee healthy ageing for all citizens and make the healthcare systems more sustainable.

Ahead of the European Parliament elections in 2014, patients with allergy, asthma and COPD in Europe ask you to take these concerns into account and to make these actions a priority in your political agenda. Help us make Europe a place where patients have the right to best quality of care and safe environment, live uncompromised lives and are actively involved in all decisions influencing their health.