Pandemic Anniversary

March 11th, 2024 marked the fourth anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the new coronavirus a global pandemic.

Since then, the impacts of COVID-19 on patients with chronic diseases has been significant, given their vulnerability to severe forms of the virus and mortality, as well as the toll on their mental well-being (see EPF's latest report here). The crisis has also severely disrupted the work of patient organisations. While these organisations have long struggled with a lack of resources and funding, the crisis has exacerbated the situation. In our 2022 survey assessing the impact of COVID-19 on patient organisations, 80% reported a reduction in funding and more than half had to adapt by renegotiating project timelines. Explore further insights from the study here

Despite these challenges, patient organisations have played an essential role in the COVID-19 crisis. Their activities ranged from providing patients with reliable information and psychological support in times of social isolation, to supporting patients with long COVID.

This four-year milestone underlines the need to develop and implement a sustainable 'core funding' strategy for patient groups at EU and national level, as per our Patient Organisations’ Manifesto adopted ahead of the 2024 European elections. Creating the conditions for patient organisations to fulfil their mission requires unrestricted, solid, and long-term operating funding for their daily activities.  

In this context, the recent budget cuts to the EU4Health programme send a very worrying signal. Now, more than ever, we need to prioritise investment in health to strengthen EU public health and prepare for future emergencies, as well as recognise civil society organisations’ role in bridging the gap between institutions and the public. COVID-19 taught us a key public health lesson: sustainable planning and adequate resources are essential for the effectiveness and resilience of health systems that deliver for patients.

EPF will continue to advocate for sustainable investment in health policies and adequate support for patient organisations. Join our campaign here.