On 21 November 2022, the European Commission adopted and published the priorities and actions, including the allocation of resources, for the implementation in 2023 of the EU4Health programme as established under Regulation (EU) 2021/522 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
The EU SHD Coalition acknowledges that EU4Health Programme constitutes tangible proof of the European Union’s commitment to effectively address non-Communicable diseases(NCD), devoting essential funds to tackle their burden via coordinated actions. In 2022, further to the publication of the Healthier Together EU NCD Initiative, this Programme is funding the first-ever Joint Action dedicated to Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes and a 5 Million EUR Call for Proposals on the topic. This constitutes an opportunity which will allow to start addressing the pressing needs in terms of designing and deploying public policies that effectively tackle cardiovascular health, including Structural Heart Diseases.
It will however not suffice to tackle the wide challenges still faced by people affected by structural heart disease, a disease linked to ageing, widely under-detected and under-treated, and that can generally not be prevented by lifestyle measures.
Against this background, the SHD Coalition is gravely concerned that the 2023 Programme does not include any allocation of resources to Cardiovascular Diseases nor to Structural Heart Diseases (SHD) in particular on disease prevention and screening, despite the fact that CVDs are the first cause of mortality in the continent, while currently, 14 million people are suffering from SHDs. The EU SHD Coalition appreciates that the European Commission needs to implement many health policy priorities going from non-communicable diseases to health data, and from healthcare resilience and strengthening of healthcare workers’ workforce to supporting the implementation of healthcare related legislations.
If the COVID-19 pandemic taught the EU one thing, it was that it is primordial to strengthen health of vulnerable populations, including the ageing population and people suffering from cardiovascular diseases such as structural heart disease. The EU SHD Coalition therefore urges the European Commission to continue to prioritise cardiovascular health beyond the EU Joint Action in future Work Programmes.
The SHD Coalition, with the support of MEPs, Brando Benifei (S&D, Italy), Maria da Graça Carvalho (EPP- Portugal), Hilde Vautmans (Renew – Belgium), Sara Cerdas (S&D – Portugal), Juozas Olekas (S&D – Lithuania) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP – Finland), looking forward to the 2024 EU4health programme, calls on the European Commission to devote additional resources to preventing CVDs and screening Structural Heart Disease in particular,to reduce their burden on patients and healthcare systems, and guarantee healthy and active ageing for all EU citizens.