Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2021 Recap

EPF Secretariat EPF Secretariat at AGM 2021

On 17th April 2021, EPF Members gathered online for the 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM). This was the second virtual AGM for EPF due to COVID-19 circumstances. Despite being apart for the second year in a row, the mood was light and happy as all members got to bask in the wonderful efforts from the past year and look forward to the year ahead.

During the event, members of EPF’s Board and Secretariat reported on 2020 activities and gave an overview of our current and upcoming work for 2021-2022. The AGM saw the election and re-election five (5) board members, the approval of four (4) new member organisations, and gave our members the latest highlights and plans of the EPF Youth Group, the EU4Health programme and pharmaceutical strategy.

EPF’s AGM plays a key role in the governing process of the organisation, approving the annual report and the financial report from the past year, as well as the budget and work plan for the coming  year.

New Board members and roles

This year, EPF members elected one new Board member for the two-year term: Manuel Arellano (The Spanish Platform of Patients). They also reconfirmed Marco Greco (European Liver Patient Organisation & Hungarian Alliance of Patient Organisations), Radu Ganescu (Coalition of Organisations of Patients with Chronic Diseases in Romania) and Dimitrios Athanasiou (World Duchenne Organisation) as Board Members.

For the second time, as per the EPF Constitution, a seat on the Board was  granted to a representative of the EPF Youth Group, won by Erin Davies (International Bureau for Epilepsy).

Marco Greco continues his role as EPF President as per the Board votes, while Radu Ganescu carries on as Treasurer. Brian West (European AIDS Treatment Group), who was elected for the Board at the 2020 AGM, was newly appointed as EPF Vice President.

New EPF members

EPF is delighted to welcome two new full members and two associate members to the EPF family! We look forward to further strengthening our representation by adding the voice of several diseases to EPF. To that end, we warmly welcome Global Heart Hub and Europa UOMO as Full Members to our organisation. A hearty congratulations is in order to our two new associate members as well – FH Europe and GlobalSkin.

All organisations have already shown the great efforts they continuously engage in for patients around Europe on their disease specific area, and we are delighted to add EPF’s backing to further cooperate our work together.

EPF Youth Group – the young patients’ perspective

Youth Group Vice President Anastasia Semaan presented a recap of their work done in 2020, and the exciting plans and projects to look forward to in 2021.

Some highlights include the expansion of the Youth Group (12 members in total); the launched results of the WAYS (Work and Youth Strategy) project, aimed at raising awareness, achieving equal access to job opportunities for young people with chronic conditions and non-discrimination in the job market; and the numerous events and EU funded projects they attended in the past year.

Anastasia also introduced some of the exciting 2021 plans – further expansion of the WAYS results published in a journal, a new Sexual Health and Wellbeing Project to gain an insight on patients’ views of sexual health and areas of concern plus the next edition of the Summer Training Programme for Young Patient Advocates (STYPA).

EU4Health Programme Update, Pharmaceutical Strategy Update and the HERA Agency

EPF’s Director of Policy Kaisa Immonen gave an overview of the EU4Health Programme providing the most pressing objectives for patients. EPF continues to engage actively with the European Commission through workshops, webinars and task force meetings. The open dialogue will continue as EPF’s patient advocacy work is at the forefront of our mission.

The updates on the Pharmaceutical Strategy were outlined, and a summary was given on the new EU Agency – Health Emergency Response Authority (HERA). EPF is receptive to input from members regarding the current open Commission public consultation. The deadline for members to provide input is 25th April and the deadline for EPF submission to the Commission is 12th May.

Efficient results and engaged membership during difficult global health circumstances.

Despite the distance, this was our most popular AGM event in history, with more than 90 attendees, and more organisations representing patients with chronic conditions than ever before. The virtual setting did not affect the involvement and engagement of every member who was willing to contribute to our collective mission.

We want to sincerely thank our members for their flexibility and openness as we continue to develop more ways to strengthen the pan-European patient community. With the end of the pandemic hopefully in sight, we look forward to seeing you again soon, ideally face to face, in a safer and healthier outside world!