2017 has started on a high for EuropaColon with a very generous offer of PR support for the next three years from the Editor and owner of the eureporter – Mr Colin Stevens. His offer to support the work of EuropaColon and to help us raise the profile of digestive cancers is a most welcome contribution to our work. We are most grateful that eureporter have chosen EuropaColon for this partnership.
In a press release announcing this important collaboration, the eureporter said: “We hope to push the work of EuropaColon up the European political agenda so that it can gain the required political support.” They also stressed that health is a personal responsibility and making individuals aware was an important task for us all.
For our part EuropaColon is delighted to work with the eureporter and look forward to a dynamic three years. We believe it offers us a unique opportunity to inform all stakeholders of the importance of digestive cancers.
Commenting on this donation Jola Gore Booth Founder and CEO of EuropaColon emphasised that for change to happen political will is needed!
Latest News from Political Hub
Update news and politics from across Europe updated every week here at our new Political Hub
The European CanCer Organisation, ECCO, recently completed the first of two cancer reviews put together by members from 25 clinical societies in Europe. These publications state the requirements for essential care for colorectal cancer bone Sarcoma. These are not a set of guidelines but instead a complement to existing treatment guidelines that aim to clarify aspects of the pathway for clinicians, laypersons and patients. The report covers the patient pathway from diagnosis to palliative care. The colorectal cancer report can be viewed: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1040842816303547
Cost of medicines was one of the chosen topics by the Maltese Government to be looked at during their presidency this year. One of these areas is a recommendation for collaboration between countries in the Mediterranean basin, similar to the one agreed by the Benelux countries a while ago. Also on the table were HTAs, (Health Technology Appraisals) and were subject of a presentation at a meeting of senior health officials in Malta during the Presidency of the EU. Not surprisingly there was call for flexibility when discussing proposals to set up a EU wide system for HTA. The wide range of health systems in the EU require a system that will allow countries to collaborate but also maintain individual differences so that they can maintain their own health systems.
CanCon, as previously stated the Joint Action on Cancer ended with its closing meeting in Malta in February. The document setting out the findings and conclusions can be accessed here.
Also available is link to more information about CanCon. http://www.cancercontrol.eu/who-we-are/
Health System Challenges
The demands placed on EU health systems and discussion about their ability to cope with increasing pressures is an on going topic that repeats every year. 2017 started with some harrowing descriptions of life within UK hospitals, including over crowding, delays in essential treatment and operations. This brought leading institutions such as the Royal College of Physicians to comment that vital services are “struggling or failing to cope” and the Red Cross to conclude that the NHS was suffering a humanitarian crisis.
However, while Brexit remains the main topic of general and political interest it is unlikely that these stories will generate much anti-government feeling. However it does present Mrs May with an opportunity that will be of considerable benefit is she can manage it alongside her other challenges. (Politico 12th January 2017)
In the Republic of Ireland the situation seems to be similarly grave with the Health Minister apologising for failings in the system as 600 patients waited for a hospital bed. The numbers later eased to 190 the Irish Independent reported. Also in January the Irish hospital with the biggest emergency department announced it was cancelling all non-elective surgery. Adding it has experienced a 10% increase in adults attending the emergency department, a large number of these being over 75 years of age. (Politico 9th January 2017)
OECD Meeting of Health Ministers in Paris
In a new report Managing Access, Value and Sustainability, published on January 16, 2017, the OECD. The authors concluded that the proliferation of high-cost medicines and rising drug prices are increasing pressures on public health spending and called into question the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing strategies. The report added that governments need to work with the industry and regulators to define a new approach to the development and use of new health technologies that encourages innovation while also delivering more affordable and value for money treatments.
The report recommended that prices paid for technologies must reflect their real-world health benefits compared to alternatives and be adjusted based on evidence about their actual impact. Payers must be equipped with the necessary powers to adjust prices and withdraw payment for ineffective technologies.
More efforts are also needed to harness the potential of health data more effectively. Use of personal health data creates major opportunities for health system improvement, research and disease surveillance, but requires the right governance frameworks to realise these benefits while managing the privacy risks.
Also at the same meeting the Pharmaceutical Industry came up for scrutiny. At the meeting Health Minsters from the largest European countries pledge to work together to tackle rising drug prices. Member called for grater encouragement for tackling innovation in areas of greatest need, citing dementia and new antimicrobials.
The French Minster was more confrontational calling on countries to stand up to the Pharmaceutical Industry threatening to use new legal tools to bring down prices of inflated medicines.
(Politico 18th January 2017)
State of a Nation’s Nutrition
Nutrition was in the headlights in France as The National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) resented the main results of the updating of the nutritional benchmarks of the National Nutrition Health Program (PNNS), which aims to improve the state of health of the population by acting on food. "Let food be your first medicine," said Hippocrates.
This information will serve to develop new recommendations for the general public. The last were dated 2002 and referred to at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day and to limit consumption of salt. It is no surprise to see the recommendation to eat less meat and "significantly reduce" the deli meats which is based on the report of IARC, the WHO Cancer Agency.
The risk of chronic disease increases by 10% to 20% for each increase in daily intake of 100 grams of meat (excluding poultry) and even 50% for a 50 g / day increase in processed meats, including deli meats. This is the first time specific reference has been made to quantities. Drinking one drink per day of sweetened drinks (soda, fruit juice, nectar ...) is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease by 20% compared to zero consumption. Pure water is recommended as a preference.
The positive effects of ‘5 a day’ on health are proven: they bring fiber, vitamins and minerals in to the body," insists Professor Margaritis one of the authors of the report.
European Cancer Leagues (ECL) Launch Task for Equal Access to Cancer Medicines
Concern that increased cancer incidence in the population and new technological advances in medicines could result in a situation where unprecedented pressure is added to health budgets so making the medicine unaffordable or unavailable for many cancer patients. With this in mind the ECL are recommending that a political and social discussion to develop suitable policies to ensure equal and affordable access to cancer medicines.
Improvements are being made in many countries in Europe partly as a result of medicines and partly as a result of better health practices. This situation needs to continue and not be hampered by cost of medicines or new technologies. The ultimate goal is to achieve access to medicines for all cancer patients in Europe.
The first meeting, under the chair of the Dutch Cancer League will take place on 23rd February in Amsterdam. For more information contact EScheres@kwf.nl
Polio Might Return to Romania
Facebook is becoming the means of communication adopted by governments across the world. In Romania, Raed Arafat, Secretary of State and head of the Department for Emergency Situations, called on parents to vaccinate their children, and warned that polio had started to reappear in Romania. He commented that he was aware of the debate about vaccinating children but warned that this was a disease almost completely eradicated until recently. It was returning because parents decided not to vaccinate their children and this was a mistake.
European Report on Slovakian Health System
The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies completed as they concluded their Presidency of the Council of Ministers last year was not very complementary siting a number of areas that could be improved.
The Slovak health system is based on universal coverage, compulsory health insurance, a basic benefit package and a competitive insurance model with selective contracting of health care providers. However, 14 years after the introduction of a competitive insurance model, some health indicators, such as life expectancy, healthy life years and avoidable deaths, are troubling. This hints at persistent room for improvement in the delivery of care, especially primary and long-term care. Additionally, inequity in the distribution of health providers, resulting in lengthy travelling distances and waiting times for patients, needs to be addressed, especially as, given the ageing workforce, this trend is likely to continue.
On the one hand, there is a strong will to improve the Slovak health system, for example the current strategic documents and reform efforts by the Ministry of Health aim at a complete overhaul of enduring inefficiencies in the Slovak health system.
For EuropaColon we cannot help add to this report that the absence of formal population screening in the country with the highest colorectal cancer mortality is of considerable concern and an areas we believe needs to be urgently addressed.
More up-to-date information on many countries is available from the Observatory.