Since the first event in March 2021, where the Coalition was officially launched, we have engaged with influential politicians to call on the European Commission to create a European Joint Action on SHD.
Representing patients, healthcare professionals, and experts and supported by elected politicians from various countries and the European Parliament we contributed to several EU policy initiatives close to our heart. This went from making contributions to the public consultation on the EU Green Paper on Ageing, the European Health Data Space and the 2022 EU4Health work programme. The European Commission recognised the value of our contribution for the EU4Health Programme and invited our Steering Committee member Prof. Paolo Magni, professor of Pathology at the Università degli Studi di Milano and member of the Board of the Italian Heart Foundation,to present the Coalition and its action in a webinar, during which were presented the results of the consultation.
Consequently, our efforts gained momentum on World Heart Day on 29 September. In a letter to the Commissioner for Public Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, 14 Members of European Parliament, and Members of National Parliaments from Spain, Italy, and France Member States supported our call for a Joint Action on SHD in the upcoming EU4Health programme.
Bearing in mind the essential contribution of Member States to the EU action, we have also worked hand in hand with our representatives at national level to support our action.
- Members of the French “Assemblée Nationale”, Annie Vidal and Paul Christophe, organised an event in September to promote action on ageing and related challenges, including SHD. The event was specifically focused on the upcoming French Presidency of the Council of the EU, starting in January 2022 and running for 6 months.
- In Spain, a letter signed by several different stakeholders and political parties representatives was sent to the Minister for Health, calling for a joint action on SHD at national level.
- In Germany, five experts from the field of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) came together in September to discuss the early detection of CVD and structural heart diseases (SHD), as they are among the most life-threatening widespread diseases and the leading cause of death in Germany. In this context, they recommended five measures which should be put in place to improve the early detection of CVD and SHD on the occasion of a call for action.
- In July 2021, the Italian Heart Foundation organised an event bringing together SHD and cardiology experts, MEPs, government representatives and institutions to create synergies to help Italy achieve the goals of the Joint Action on SHD.
- In Scotland, the Conservative Deputy Health Spokesperson and Member of the Parliamentary Health and Sport Committee Brian Whittle hosted a virtual roundtable on “Healthy Hearts, Healthy Ageing: A Heart Valve Disease Plan for Scotland in March to discuss the role of cardiovascular health in ensuring healthy ageing”.
In 2021, we seized the many political opportunities to progress our goal. We should now look forward to 2022 and continue our efforts in the fight against SHD.
The upcoming European Commission’s policy roadmap on non-communicable diseases announced for mid-2022 as well as the continued work of EU4Health to promote health and prevent diseases, are just a snapshot of the many opportunities to further advance our goals and work towards the prioritisation of SHD at EU level and ultimately the creation of a Joint Action on SHD.
The EU SHD Coalition particularly thanks its members, the Steering Committee, as well as political supporters for the great efforts in supporting the SHD cause, and looks forward to continued collaboration in 2022.