On 13 December 2013, MEP Catherine Stihler (pictured), from the Social Democrates, UK, tabled a written parliamentary question on COPD:
Can the Commission update Parliament on the progress being made on a comprehensive EU strategy for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? Of particular interest is the development being made in the area of pulmonary rehab, as just 18% of EU COPD sufferers have access to this key service.
The Commissioner for health, Tonio Borg gave the following answer, published on 7 Februray:
“While the Commission does not intend to put forward a specific strategy for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it is addressing the key risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in its policy on tobacco control, through legislation on Tobacco Products and on their advertising, through monitoring the Council Recommendation on smoke Free Environments, and through awareness raising action. In addition, the Commission has been co-financing through the health programme a project on “Indicators for monitoring chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma in the EU”, in which indicators on mortality, prevalence, risk factors, clinical management and outcomes have been developed and data gathered. Within its broader approach to address chronic diseases, a joint action on chronic diseases “Chronic diseases and promoting healthy ageing across the life cycle” was launched in January 2014.
Moreover, the Commission is following up the reflection process on chronic diseases by organizing an EU summit on chronic diseases in April 2014 to analyse action to date, to continue the discussion in the field of chronic diseases with clear EU added value, and to deliver recommendations on future interventions to tackle the burden of chronic diseases.
With regard to access to pulmonary rehabilitation, the Commission does not compile data on the accessibility of healthcare services for specific patient groups.
However, based on the latest data for 2012 from the EU Survey of “Income and Living Conditions” the overall number of patients in the EU reporting unmet medical needs are less than 6% of respondents. http://ec.europa.eu/eahc/projects/database.html?prjno=2005121”
ECC warmly thanks both MEP Stihler and Commissioner Borg for supporting the cause and helping put the disease on the EU agenda.