EPF National Coalitions Meeting: Different Perspectives, Similar Goals
On 16-17 October, more than 30 representatives of national patient coalitions from 28 countries across Europe gathered together in Brussels for the first EPF National Coalitions Meeting. The aim was to grow synergies between national coalitions and to learn how to advocate effectively at all levels, for better outcomes for patients in Europe.
A national coalition of patient organisations is an umbrella organisation grouping national or regional patient organisations representing individual chronic conditions (Alzheimer's, diabetes, multiple sclerosis ... ) or groupings of conditions (rare diseases, cancers, mental health conditions etc.). These organisations come together and form an umbrella that should be representative of the collective interests of all patients of one country.
Shaped around a very interactive progamme, the EPF National Coalitions Meeting focused on three main objectives :
- building and developing the participants’ knowledge of the European Union;
- learning how to get involved in a European advocacy campaign;
- designing a roadmap for a coordinated and common advocacy framework for EPF and the national coalitions.
In an spirit of openness and knowledge-sharing, representatives of national coalitions of patients presented the challenges and opportunities they meet when setting up and managing national coalitions, starting a lively discussion around best practices. Participants and speakers also shared their views on the pros and cons of different organisation models, underlining the importance of collaboration as a strong baseline for any foundation or next organisational step.
The second day of the meeting offered interactive sessions with three different workshops on advocacy tools, advocacy campaigns and effective leadership. Patient representatives took the floor proposing examples of the DOs and DON’Ts in advocacy (in terms of communication with members, mailing procedures, social engagement tools, and survey processes) and shared many ideas to translate European level campaigns into the different national contexts.
Expertise in local, specific situations
“National coalitions of patient organisations play a crucial role in the national context; they are the eyes and ears of the patient community and that’s why their presence is vital for EPF,” said Radu Costin Ganescu, EPF Board member. “They provide us with expertise in country-specific situations and spread our messages to the national and regional levels. A common advocacy strategy between EPF and national coalitions of patients will help us achieve our shared goal of a strong patient voice in every Member States”, he added.
This first edition of the EPF National Coalitions Meeting defined steps towards a common advocacy strategy, and equally importantly, allowed for networking between participants working in neighbouring regions.
For further information, please consult our Toolkit on Building National Coalitions of Patient Organisations.
Contact person: Elena Balestra, Membership and Capacity Building Officer.