Archive for October, 2015

EKHA Chair joins national society visiti to Georgian Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs

 Vanholder and georgian health minister 102015

EKHA has recently developed European Recommendations for sustainable Kidney Care. Specific aspects of these recommendations were at the centre of the discussion between the Dialysis, Nephrology and Transplantation Union of Georgia and Deputy Health Minister Kvaratskhelia at the Ministry of Health in Georgia. 
Georgia currently faces important healthcare problems related to kidney disease, while one of their major preoccupations is to intervene in these issues according to accepted International/European standards.The fast growth in number of end-stage kidney disease patients is a key issue. EKHA Chairman Prof Raymond Vanholder took the opportunity of a visit to Georgia to join this meeting. Topics from the recommendations which they discussed with the Deputy Health Minister included: 
  • Prevention (control and appropriate treatment of diabetes and hypertension);
  • Education (not only nephrologists but also for lay public, nurses and primary care physicians);
  • Life style measures (combat obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, high salt and phosphate diet);
  • Early detection, registration, conservative care in case of comorbidities and transplantation (activation of both living and deceased donation programs, opting out for deceased donation);
Regarding current obstacles in Georgia, both addressed the necessity to educate the public and encourage lifestyle measures via social channels besides the health linked channels, in order to reach further than the interested public. Data collection should focus on end-stage renal disease as well as on earlier stages. Among end-stage patients, data collections should focus not only on the mere fact of becoming end-stage but also on comorbidities and adverse events. Cultural such as diatery habits (high salt intake), and political and religious issues which influence the rates of organ donors and therefore transplantation access, (such as the acceptance of brain death as the definition of death, will have to be dealt with as well if transplantation is to become more frequent). 
The current national dialysis program, which was started in 1996, serves more than 2000 patiens, which corresponds to a good ration of 0.5/1000. This result is due to better detection but also to increased risk due to epidemologic reasons such as diabetes, hypertension, high salt and phosphorus intake, a lack of exercise,and/or to the take on of patients with too many comorbidities. Deputy Minister Kvaratskhelia emphasized that the Ministry would focus on primary health care as part of their efforts for prevention of kidney disease and its comorbidities.  
The Dialysis, Nephrology and Kidney Transplantation Union of Georgia is one of the national nephrologic societies which are Associate Member of EKHA.
vaholder pres georgia


Chairs of the European Parliament health interest groups ask fellow MEPs to consider the link between air pollution and ill health ahead of crucial vote

The Chairs of the MEP Group for Kidney Health; the EP Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma; the MEP Heart Group; MEPs Against Cancer and Friends of the Liver Group have called their fellow MEPs to consider the importance of clean air for health ahead of the crucial vote on the National Emissions Ceiling (NEC) Directive.
The NEC Directive is going to be voted tomorrow (28th October) in plenary session of the European Parliament. This piece of legislation sets maximum binding air pollution levels within the European Union for the next 15 years. The results of this vote will have implications for the quality of the air that we all breathe, and for the health of generations of Europeans. 
The signatories of the communication invited the Parliament to explore the paper Particulates Matter: Why the EU must do more to tackle air pollution, developed by the European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA), in which EKHA is an active member.
Please see the text of the communication below
Dear Colleagues,
In anticipation of the imminent vote on the NEC Directive, we would like to bring to your attention the recent position paper of the European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA)“Particulates Matter: why the EU must do more to tackle air pollution”.
The paper provides important information on the link between air pollution and ill health.
Recommendations include:
  • The European Commission should see action on EU air quality as an opportunity to be “big on big things”, 
  • The EU should adopt the WHO Air Quality Guideline values as Limit Values which for particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometer (PM2.5) meaning the Limit Value should be reduced from 25 to 10 µg/m3, 
  • Clean air needs to be promoted and incentivised across all policy areas, in particular within the framework of a comprehensive EU strategy for the prevention and control of chronic disease, 
  • The EU must bring forward robust legislation tackling both emissions sources and ambient air concentrations to protect health, cut healthcare costs and save lives. 
  • EU Member States must fulfill their obligations and ensure compliance with EU legislation. 

We thank you in advance for the attention you will bring to this paper and to the calls made for clean air in Europe. 

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP; Chair EP Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma 
Mairead Mc Guinness MEP; co-Chair MEP Heart Group 
Karin Kadenbach MEP; co-Chair MEP Heart Group & Chair of the MEP group for Kidney Health 
Alojz Peterle MEP; Chair MEPs Against Cancer (MAC) Group 
Cristian-Silviu Buşoi MEP; co-Chair MEP Friends of the Liver Group
The European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA) is a coalition of 11 European health organisations sharing the same interests in combating preventable chronic diseases through European policies that impact health. ECDA represents millions of chronic disease patients and over 200 000 health professionals. ECDA’s mission is to reverse the alarming rise in chronic diseases by providing leadership and policy recommendations based on contemporary evidence.
The EP Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma is a common effort by European allergy and asthma patients, health professionals and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) committed to fight against the most prevalent chronic diseases in Europe. The Interest Group is chaired by MEP Sirpa Pietikainen and co-chaired by MEP Nessa Childers. The Secretariat of the Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma is led by European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) in partnership with the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) and is working closely to voice the needs of people living with allergy and asthma in Europe.
The main objective of the MEP Heart Group is to promote measures that will help reduce the burden of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in the European Union and to raise awareness of the disease among target audiences through a series of dedicated activities. The MEP Heart Group is led by two Co-Chairs, Mairead McGuinness MEP and Karin Kadenbach MEP. The European Society of Cardiology and the European Heart Network provide support to the MEP Heart Group by running its secretariat.
The MEP Group for Kidney Health is the informal group of Members of the European Parliament committed to improve the policy response to the growing burden of kidney disease in Europe. The MEP Group has been running since 2008, acting as a successful debate forum in topics such as prevention of chronic kidney disease, access to transplantation, sustainability of healthcare systems and health inequalities. MEP Karin Kadenbach is the group’s chair. The European Kidney Health Alliance (EKHA) supports the group by running its secretariat. 
The MEPs Against Cancer (MAC) group is an informal group of  MEPs  at the European Parliament committed to actions against cancer. The MEPs Against Cancer work together in order to improve cancer prevention and control in Europe, in the belief that European cooperation adds value to member state actions. In order to address the challenges faced by the EU, MAC works together with the European Commission and Council and collaborate with relevant organisations to reduce cancer incidence by 15% by the year 2020.  Mr Alojz Peterle (EPP) is the Chair of the MAC group. The European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) support this group and one of its members, the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL), provides the MAC Secretariat.
The Friends of the Liver group in the European Parliament is a group of MEPs with an interest in liver disease and its underlying causes. The aim of the group is to raise awareness amongst their colleagues and the European Commission of liver disease and to identify and advocate for European Union policies that can help prevent it and improve treatment. The co-chairs are Romanian EPP member, Dr Cristian-Silviu Busoi and Dr Biljana Borzan, and S&D group member from Croatia.

MEP Group for Kidney Health event on Improving Prevention & Health literacy

Improving Prevention & Health Literacy
The Quest to reduce economic burden of chronic disease in the EU 

An event of the MEP Group for Kidney Health 
19th October 

On 19th October, EKHA, together with the MEP Group for Kidney Health held a meeting in the European Parliament to discuss how prevention and health literacy can help reduce economic burden of chronic disease in the EU. The event was hosted by MEP Karin Kadenbach (S&D, Austria), Chair of the MEP Group for Kidney Health. The focus of the discussion was set on the importance of chronic disease prevention for quality of life, as well as for national health budgets. Conclusions included the pressing need for improved prevention and health literacy amongst the general public and legal frameworks for industry commitments. 
Speakers included EKHA Chair Prof Raymond Vanholder, Tom Oostrom, Director of the Kidney Foundation (Netherlands) and Laura Webber, Director for Public Health Modelling at the UK Health Forum. 
Prevention is better than cure 
All speakers underlined the need for increased investment in prevention, as this would be more cost-effective than spending on treatment of established disease. Currently, less than 3% of national health spending is allocated to prevention whilst 97% of health care budgets go to treatment of disease. Prevention needs to be enhanced through education around lifestyles and dietary restrictions, which is where health literacy comes into play. In the case of CKD, more access to transplantation in the EU should be advocated, as it is cheaper than dialysis and results in an improved quality of life and health outcome for the patient.The European Commission is committed to helping reduce the burden of chronic disease, notably by funding research projects such as the Economics of Chronic Disease project, EConDA (link to news published in October on the EKHA website).
The key aim is to aid EU Member States to develop, select and implement more cost-effective policies to improve chronic disease prevention and impact upon populations with the highest rates of premature deaths from chronic diseases and reduce health inequalities. Therefore, a methodology for measuring cost-effectiveness of chronic disease intervention has been developed. A microsimulation model shows that small changes can have important effects on disease burden. Some tools are available for download to test the interventions (link to the downloadable tool). EKHA is a collaborating partner to the EConDA project. 
Prevention strategies can be straightforward – for instance main risk groups such as people who are obese, smokers, diabetics or people with hypertension or cardiovascular disease, are easy to target through their GPs and often, the same group of people have an increased risk of CKD. Therefore, early detection in those high risk groups is feasible and this is what should be advocated for. 
Positive example are being undertaken, such as in the Netherlands, where an Agreement for Improving Product Composition was signed between Dutch Health Minister Schippers & Industry (January 2014). The founding principle of this agreement is self-regulation of industry in reducing the excessive salt in processed food. Indeed, in the Netherlands, experts have concluded that consumers don’t notice the gradual phasing out of salt in processed food and their health will benefit from this move over time. 
During the event, everyone agreed that the EU should put this issue of preventive salt reduction on its agenda. The EU Commissioner for Health is an advocate of prevention, but more can be done. For MEP Kadenbach, voluntary commitment from industry to reduce salt is necessary, but not enough. In the end, the commitment should be legally binding. 
MEP Kadenbach also expressed her willingness for interaction between different MEP Groups such as the MEP Group for Kidney Health and the MEP Heart Group in order to address common risk factors to heart disease and kidney disease. 

Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2016-2017 published


The Horizon 2020  Work Programme for 2016-2017 has been published and the first calls will open on Tuesday 20 October 2015. Under the broad heading Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing, the work funded under the next two years will fall under the sub heading of Personalised MedicineResearch & Innovation supported by this call should:

improve our understanding of the causes and mechanisms underlying health, healthy ageing and disease; 
-improve our ability to monitor health and to prevent, detect, treat and manage diseases; 
-support older persons to remain active and healthy; 
-and test and demonstrate new models and tools for health and care delivery.
Topics which may be of interest to EKHA members and the European kidney community are as follows:

1.1 Understanding health, well-being and disease 

SC1-PM-04–2016: Networking and optimising the use of population and patient cohorts at EU level
Opening date: 20 October 2015, Deadline: 13 April 2016
SC1-PM-02-2017: New concepts in patient stratification Opening date: 29 July 2016 Deadline: 4 October 2016

1.2 Preventing disease

SC1-PM-05–2016The European Human Biomonitoring Initiative 
Opening date: 20 October 2015, Deadline: 13 April 2016

1.3 Treating and managing disease

SC1-PM-09–2016New therapies for chronic diseases
Opening date: 20 October 2015, Deadline: 13 April 2016 
SC1-PM-10–2017Comparing effectiveness of existing healthcare interventions in the adult population
Opening date: 29 July 2016 Deadline: 4 October 2016 
SC1-PM-11–2016Clinical research on regenerative medicine 
Opening date: 20 October 2015, Deadline: 13 April 2016 
SC1-PM-08-2017New therapies for rare diseases
Opening date: 29 July 2016 Deadline: 4 October 2016  

1.4 Active ageing ad self-management of health   

SC1-PM-12–2016Procurement – eHealth innovation in empowering the patient 
Opening date: 20 October 2015, Deadline: 16 Feb 2016

1.5 Methods and data 

SC1-PM-18–2016:  Big Data supporting Public Health policies  
Opening date: 20 October 2015, Deadline: 16 Feb 2016 
SC1-PM-20-2017: Development of new methods and measures for improved economic evaluation and efficiency in the health sector  
Opening date: 29 July 2016, Deadline: 11 April 2017 
SC1-PM-21-2016Implementation research for scaling-up of evidence based innovations 
Opening date: 20 October 2015, Deadline:13 April 2016 and good practice in Europe and low- and middle-income countries 
Read more about it here.  

European Organ Donation Day – Call to Action to improve donation and transplant

On the occasion of European Organ Donation Day, the European Kidney Health Alliance (EKHA) supports the Call to Action to improve Organ Donation and Transplantation across the EUEndorsed by a wide variety of other concerned patient groups, health advocacy organisations and academics, EU Member States are called upon to support  their national transplant programmes to ensure they reach their full potential for organ donation through more favourable consent systems, improved organisation, coordination, logistics, potential donor reach-out and education.
In addition, the European Commission is called to continue and expand its activities in this area as well as fund projects addressing awareness, availability, access, quality and safety. The European Parliament is urged to support stakeholders – patient and health professional organisations – in their efforts to improve both access to transplantation as well as awareness of the importance and benefits to patients.
Organ donation is vital for the treatment and quality of life of patients of all ages – including children – living with a wide variety of conditions. In many cases, organ donation is the only treatment option remaining – and a matter of survival.  However, large differences in practices and results exist across the EU. The demand for organs still exceeds the number of available organs in all  EU Member States. 
Kidney transplantation is the treatment of choice for end-stage kidney disease in suitable patients. Transplantation provides better clinical outcomes than dialysis and substantially reduces the healthcare costs of CKD by avoiding or delaying dialysis and allowing patients to resume activities, including work. Nevertheless, rates of kidney transplantation vary dramatically between EU Member States. Increasing organ donation is a critical component of ongoing efforts to increase kidney transplantation.The Call to Action marks the start of a campaign in which relevant health stakeholders will work to increase public and political will to improve access to transplantation in the EU.
The Call to Action was initiated by the European Pulmonary Hypertension Association. See here for more information about the campaign and endorsing organisations.