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Patients’ concerns with COVID19 must be urgently addressed and voiced to Member States, says EU Commissioner Kyriakides

On Thursday 7 May, EPF met virtually with EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides to discuss challenges faced by patients during COVID19.

This much needed meeting stemmed from the Commissioner’s concern that “no chronic patients should be left behind” during these unprecedented times, and in the long term that “patients need to be at the centre of the decision-making process”, which EPF strongly welcomed.

The meeting began with some opening remarks from the Commissioner, who briefly outlined how the Commission has been responding to the pandemic, highlighting weekly calls with national ministries of health, sharing guidelines and coordinating joint procurements of protective gear and ventilators.

EPF President Marco Greco highlighted that there has been little or no patient involvement in COVID19 decision-making processes. He mentioned that EPF has also strengthened its existing cooperation with the EMA, notably related to access to medicines and shortages. He then highlighted the key focus areas where we have been targeting our work, namely ensuring continued access to timely treatment and care and the involvement of patients in strategies for deconfinement. Finally, he provided details on EPF’s presence and actions since the beginning of the pandemic, which included:

Subsequently, members of the EPF team outlined the main challenges for patients with chronic conditions as highlighted by our members, such as treatment delay, discontinuation, general lack of clarity or appropriate guidance, and the strong need for enhanced European collaboration for strengthening health systems with patients’ involvement in developing solutions. They also mentioned the great social impact all of this will have on vulnerable groups with chronic conditions who are already at a greater risk of poverty and social exclusion.

EPF raised some questions regarding the forthcoming pharmaceutical strategy, including medicines shortages, the potential revision of the Health Programme and the role of patient organisations. We received reassurance that the Commission plans to involve EPF further dialogue during the coming weeks. EPF welcomed this and looks very much forward to a close collaboration.

To conclude, Marco Greco stated that “the pandemic has shown the weak point of our health systems but also their potential. We must not be discouraged and seize the opportunity to keep fighting by putting our strengths together.”

For further elaboration, or concrete country-specific or disease-specific feedback on the pandemic do not hesitate to get in touch with our policy team, or consult our COVID19 webpage.