Post-Event Press Release
The Living longer, better conference took place 11 May 2012 at the Mundo B premises in Brussels. The event put up a groundbreaking development in the long-held debate of how stakeholders can help the EU shape the best response to the scourge of chronic disease.
This unique conference, a European public event exclusively on the theme of chronic diseases, was organised by the European COPD Coalition in partnership with four European organisations representing major chronic diseases : cardiovascular, cancer, respiratory ailments, and diabetes.
Attended by key players in the fight against chronic diseases in Europe and divided into four sessions, the event’s guest speakers  put forward a number of proposals on how to boost a wider and rather effective EU approach to chronic diseases:
- Change is not only a pressing matter – now we are confident it is also a feasible one. We must establish clear goals on how to best tackle (e.g. prevention and efficient treatment) the epidemic of chronic conditions. With the backing of strong public health organisations advocating for a successful implementation, there will be a day when we could guarantee the sustainability (e.g. a better and stronger coordination) in the way health systems respond to chronic conditions.
- People have to be made the cornerstone of the policy-making designed to address the threat of chronic diseases.Patients know better than anyone what their needs and expectations are, so it is crucial for them to be part of the health policy making.
- Worldwide-recognised brands master the art of engaging the public in their campaigns, in many cases, hooking them for a life-time. We must be able to involve the population in a similar way, so it becomes attracted by the benefits of healthy habits.
- We need to change the way our healthcare systems respond to chronic diseases. In order to provide the most effective, including in cost terms, response to the challenges chronic conditions pose, an integrated care is essential.To defeat the burden of chronic diseases, our health infrastructures must keep on adapting and upgrading.
- In the session on health promotion and disease prevention, Ms Maureen Mulvihill, from the Irish Heart Foundation said, “We know prevention works – even small changes to risk factors can dramatically reduce death and disability. Prevention efforts have a much greater impact if directed at the whole population.”
- “As a response of economic pressures, today we have been hearing examples of interventions and answers to the COPD burden implemented in Italy and Finland. While it is still important to consider cultural differences, we know that there are interventions that do work without hefty price-tags attached,” said Ms Catherine Hartmann, Secretary General of the European COPD Coalition.
The Living longer, better conference could hardly have been better timed. Following the European Council conclusions on innovative approaches for chronic diseases, along with the European Commission Reflection Process on chronic disease, this conference wrapped up a series of launches and events aimed at improving the well-being of Europeans.
As became evident right through the conference, today’s vast spread of chronic diseases is a direct outcome of the lack of political will – market forces have long gained free rein in playing around with the public health. A broader awareness and a better understanding of what makes people sick in the first place emerges as the only form of addressing the root causes of chronic diseases. It is our hope that EU policy-makers get the message.
Photos of the event and speakers, alongside with their presentations and a report on the event can be provided to journalist on request.
Keep your eye on this website for updates on events on chronic diseases and for more information on how to deal with little-know but widely spread Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
— end —
► Note to editors
 The European Heart Network (EHN), the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO), the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the International Diabetes Federation – Europe (IDF). All parties are members of the European Chronic Disease Alliance.
 The speakers were: Dr. Usman Khan, Managing Director – Matrix Insight Ltd; Mr. Luk Joossens, Advocacy Officer – Tobacco Control ECL/Belgian Cancer Foundation; Maureen Mulvihill, Health Promotion Manager – Irish Heart Foundation; Ms. Irina Odnoletkova, Association Internationale de la Mutualité; Mr. Stijn Deceukelier, Managing Director – Flemish Diabetes Association; Dr. Francesca Avolio, Manager of the Service Accreditation, Quality and Research – Regional Health care Agency of Puglia region; Professor Julio Celis, Associated Scientific – Danish Cancer Society Research Center; Ms. Dorota Sienkiewicz- Health Equity and Policy Coherences Coordinator – European Public health Alliance (EPHA); Professor Mark McCarthy, Professor of Public Health at University College of London; Dr. Ivo Smeele, General Practitioner – The Netherlands; Evert Jan Hoijtink, Founder – Soft-as-a-Service; Robert Johnstone (patient) – European Patient Forum; Dr. Catherine Bismuth, Head of the Policy Directorate – French Health Insurance Fund for Employees (CNAMTS).
 COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
► Fact and Figures
- 36 million people die prematurely from preventable chronic non-communicable diseases: 63% of deaths globally.
- 70% to 80% of healthcare costs = €700 billion in the EU and this number is expected to rise in the coming years.
- 2 out of 3 people, who have reached retirement age, have had at least two chronic conditions.
- Premature deaths from chronic diseases will increase by 17% over the next 10 years if the roots of the problems are not tackled.
- In Europe 4-10% of adults have COPD.
► Know more
• Council conclusions, Innovative approaches for chronic diseases in public health and healthcare systems