Archive for February, 2016

EKHA joins EU Presidency Conference to agree guidance on reducing salt, sugar and fat in foods


Reformulating foods to reduce salt and sugar, therefore making the healthy food choice, the easy choice, in order to reduce the burden of chronic diseases in Europe, is the main challenge being discussed by EU member states, food industry and NGOs at a conference on improving food products hosted by the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the EU. This is no small feat when compounded by the need to keep stimulate the economy and not hamper trade. EKHA, represented by Prof Vanholder, participated in the conference which took place in Amsterdam on 22 and 23 February 2016. The event is a key step towards developing a new action plan for healthier foods in the EU and the prevention of chronic diseases, including kidney disease.

EU action for healthier diets

Overweight and diet-related chronic diseases such as hypertension, kidney and heart disease are becoming the norm all over Europe. We know that eating food that is too high in salt, sugar and saturated fats increases the risk of disease and early death, but with processed food quality as it currently is, consumers find it difficult to meet the standards of healthy diet. The Netherlands Presidency wants to make healthy choices easier. Food products are imported and exported on a large scale within the EU, so the benefits of an EU-wide strategy are obvious. At the conference, EU member states, companies, patient and consumers organisations discussed ways of making food products healthier. Many member states already have national policy aimed at improving food products, but collaboration at EU level offers more scope for product innovation.

Conference participants examined how the available food products could be improved within the EU with a view to improving public health, innovation and the internal market. Health, welfare and sport Minister Edith Schippers opened the conference. Please click here to read her opening speech. The programme included sessions on public-private partnerships and innovation in the food sector.

The conference ended with participating stakeholders’ endorsement of the joint Roadmap for Action on Food Product Improvement setting out steps towards getting healthier foods on the market for European consumers. All parties committed to collaborate through a public-private partnership for a European cooperation on healthy food

More information on the conference’s outcome here.

Read EKHA report from the Dutch presidency Conference on Food Product Improvement.

EKHA on Twitter

EKHA has recently joined the social media Twitter to advocate for kidney health and participate to the overall discussions on health issues at EU level online. 

EKHA’s handle on Twitter is @EKHA_EUyou can visit EKHA’s account using it.


Increasing living kidney donation in the Netherlands


The Dutch Kidney Foundation and the Dutch Kidney Patient Association have launched a joint initiative to inform and support potential living kidney donors and kidney patients, with the overall aim to increase living kidney donation in the Netherlands.

A new website “Nierdonatie bij leven” (“living kidney donation”) has been launched on the 15th of January and a telephone number is now available for the public to exchange with a team of trained kidney doctors.

Additionally, the Dutch Parliament will discuss this month (February 2016) on a new legislation on donor registration, which could possibly lead to an increase in national rates for kidney donation in the Netherlands. The actual scheme for organ donation in the country is an opt-in system based on explicit consent since the entry into force of the Dutch Organ Donation Act in 1998. To implement the Act, the Donorregister was set up, managed by the Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport. It provides for four options when registering the decision: to give permission to use one’s tissues and organs for transplantation after death, not to give such permission, to leave the person’s next of kin decide or to leave a specific person decide. When citizens do not register their choice, relatives are asked. According to data released by Statistics Netherlands on the 5th of January 2016, around a quarter of the Dutch population aged 12 years old and over were registered as organ donors in 2015. 24 percent of the Dutch population gave explicit permission for their organs or tissues to be used after death. However, the Dutch Transplant Foundation highlighted that two-thirds of the families of deceased persons did not allow donation when there was no record of the deceased in the Donor Register.

The forthcoming discussions in the Dutch Parliament will consider the legislative proposal of the Democraten 66 party on the introduction of an Active Donor Registration (ADR) scheme. Under this model, each Dutch citizen of 18 years old and over would receive a letter asking them to register their choice to become a donor or not. In the absence of a reply, a follow-up letter would be sent. Citizens not registering would be automatically registered as organ donors, a registration that could be confirmed or changed at any time. According to the party, such a system would contribute to reduce donor shortage in the Netherlands, since it would imply that every citizen knows about donor registration, while ignorance rates are currently high in the country.

Priorities for a European policy on multimorbidity

Multi-morbidity – the co-occurrence of at least two chronic conditions in one person – is affecting an increasing number of European citizens. As it is becoming a major public health threat, the European Union enhanced a reflexion aimed at developing a framework to address the related challenges and improve patient’s quality of life, while ensuring the sustainability of healthcare systems. On the 27th of October, health professionals, patients groups and relevant stakeholders met with EU policy-makers to define policy priorities to address multi-morbid patients. The objective of the EU-organised conference, ‘Which priorities for a European policy on multimorbidity?, was to define the elements to set a common framework on multimorbidity from a perspective including research, healthcare organization, cost-effectiveness & financing and patient engagement.

Through the discussions, the following policy priorities were outlined:

  • change of paradigm from a medical-problem solving to a patient-centered approach, tailored to each individual’s needs.
  • increase coordination between health and social care
  • reorganize health systems to develop better integrated services
  • increase research on diseases interaction and on the cost-effectiveness of interventions addressing multimorbidity
  • develop evidence-based good practices and create a platform allowing health professionals to share them
  • improve patients’ health literacy and promote higher involvement of patients and families in disease management
  • develop better standardisation of health care models
  • form multidisciplinary teams and improve the training of healthcare professional

Participants stressed the important role that can play innovative ICT solutions in implementing these priorities. Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health Xavier Prats-Monné especially highlighted the need to address multimorbidity through an holistic approach, the need to switch to a patient-oriented model of healthcare and to increase cross border exchange of best practices between EU Member States.

“Multimorbidity means not treating patients one discipline at a time. A paradigm shift from a disease-oriented approach to a patient-oriented approach is necessary” (Xavier Prats-Monné, Director General for Health, European Commission)

Concluding the conference, Deputy Director General DG SANTE Martin Seychell re-asserted the need for cooperation between stakeholders to establish a common framework on multimorbidity, and for an integrated approach, which would also have a positive impact on health systems’ performance and cost-effectiveness.

Note: To address the issue, the Selfie project, funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 EU programme for research & innovation, has been set to identify possible ways of joining up care for patients with a combination of chronic diseases. Launched in September 2015, this three-year project will run until September 2019 to look into ways to provide a more patient-centered and integrated care relying on adequate payment systems.