Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Pascal Arimont from Belgium and Brando Benifei from Italy have recently organised a public hearing on Structural Heart Disease (SHD). The key outcome of this hearing was increased awareness of SHD amongst policymakers and members of the European Commission. MEP Arimont highlighted that the European Parliament has a role to channel current EU budgets towards improving detection of SHD. “No citizen should be left behind and die because of a lack of a heart check” – MEP Pascal Arimont
Several members of the EU SHD Coalition were invited by the European Parliament to share perspectives on the burden of Structural Heart Disease, its impact on patients’ lives as well as society, and to discuss potential solutions to the barriers in effective detection of the disease. Speakers included members of the EU SHD Coalition and Members of the European Parliament. Discussions revolved around the need to raise awareness on the conditions with patients as well as medical professionals, and the need to introduce more widespread detection programmes which could be facilitated by the EU4Health Programme. The necessary steps for an SHD screening programme should include the development of guidelines on early detection, as well as the training of healthcare professionals and the improvement of the health literacy of older citizens.
The European Commission, represented by Mr. Artur Furtado, who is the Deputy Head of Unit – Health promotion, disease prevention, and financial instruments at DG SANTE informed the audience about what levers the European Commission can utilise to tackle SHD. He explained that the European Commission has learned a lot from COVID-19 which cumulated in the understanding that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases should be better addressed. Mr Furtado acknowledged that suggestions to improve early detection for CVDs like SHD could be further tackled through the Healthier Together – EU NCD Initiative, as well as investments within the framework of the EU4Health Programme.
The EU SHD Coalition welcomes and endorses the report published by MEPs Arimont and Benifei on their social media accounts. The EU SHD Coalition remains committed to continue to raise awareness around SHD in Europe and strive toward more concrete policy action on CVDs and SHD at the EU and national levels.
The report is available here.