Archive for November, 2017

Boosting the retention and return-to-work of employees with chronic diseases

Launch of a Call-to-Action on the EU Health Policy Platform

Brussels, 27th of November – The European Chronic Disease Alliance, presided over by EKHA Chairman Professor Raymond Vanholder, has launched policy recommendations to increase employment opportunities for the one in four Europeans of working age who suffer from a chronic condition. Through the recommendations, the organisations aim to foster prevention, integrated care, financial incentives for workplace adaptations and the creation of innovative business models, to help people with chronic condition stay-in or return to work.

Led by the European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA), of which the European Kidney Health Alliance is a lead member,  the partner organisations have developed a call to action with recommendations to the European Commission and Members States for sustainable employability of people with chronic diseases. Four priority areas for action are identified:

  • Invest in prevention and earlier detection of chronic diseases
  • Integrate primary and specialist care to improve rehabilitation and return-to-work
  • Put in place adequate policy frameworks and incentives for businesses to support flexible employment, return to work, and retention at work of people with chronic diseases
  • Ensure appropriate training of employers and promote chronic disease awareness at the workplace

Prof Vanholder officially presented  the Call to Action in Brussels during the EU Health Policy Platform Forum organised by the European Commission DG SANTE. His presentation can be viewed online here (minute 58:45—1:21:30). To date, the call to action is endorsed by 25 organisations from the health, social and employment sectors. It remains open for endorsement until January 2018.

An accompanying paper presents an overview of the situation and  an economic analysis of the benefits of the professional (re)integration of people with chronic diseases. It also includes case studies and good practices in European countries in managing chronic diseases and employment prospects.

Organisations behind the call encourage putting in place the actions which will make significant contribution to achieving the sustainable employment component of the Europe 2020 Strategy of the European Commission and deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What is the situation?

The prevalence of chronic diseases has been growing in Europe over the past decades (1), often affecting people of working age. Over one-third of the European population aged 15 years and older has a chronic disease and two out of three people at retirement age will have at least two chronic conditions (2).

Beyond the direct costs of healthcare to treat chronic conditions, which amount to more than €700 billion annually in the EU, workers with chronic diseases and employers incur indirect costs. Evidence shows that chronic diseases have an impact on workforce participation, hours worked, job turnover and result in early retirement in many cases.

(1) Eurostat, 2010; Busse et al., 2010

(2) Europeans of retirement age: chronic diseases and economic activity. RIVM. December 2012

Read and share the Call to Action

An infographic (see below) on chronic diseases and work with main messages of the Call is available here.

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. The European Kidney Health Alliance is a founding member of the ECDA. For more information, contact the ECDA Secretariat: ; see



Horizon 2020 New research calls for ‘Health, demographic change & wellbeing’

Work Programme 2018-2020 and funding opportunities

The multi-annual work programme for 2018-2020 in Horizon 2020, the EU’s research funding instrument, has now been published. This is the final cycle of the Horizon 2020 programme. With the principle of research for better health for all at its core, Horizon 2020’s Societal Challenge 1 (SC1)  Health Demographic Change and Wellbeing focuses on personalised health and care. The new deadlines for submission start on April 18th.  Although broadly focused in nature, the topics can be applied to research in kidney disease prevention and management. Such challenge-based (rather than disease-focused) approach, means that the fundamental criterion to obtain funding is scientific quality. The current Horizon 2020 programme (2014-2020) has already supported 22 projects specifically in kidney health with a cumulated contribution of EURO 47.6 million.

Work Program 2018-2020 work programme includes the following health themes:

  • Personalised medicine
  • Rare diseases
  • Infectious diseases
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Big data
  • eHealth
  • Integration of care

The New H2020 Calls are as follows, more information can be found on the links below:

Save the date!

The European Kidney Forum is planned for the 21st of March 2018

The Forum will be held in the European Parliament under the auspices of the MEP Group for Kidney Health and explore the topic of Increased Access to Kidney Transplantation. Best practice in organ donation and transplantation across Member States will be addressed, including data, solutions and testimonies.

Stay tuned, the preparations are on-going and we will keep you informed when registration opens!

“Shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation”

Theresa May found clear words in favour of a change in the system.

Both, the UK government and the opposition positioned themselves recently in favour of a move towards a system of presumed consent on organ donation, as we find in most European countries.

At the Tory Party conference early October, the leader of the Conservatives assured that the government is working on behalf of people in need of organ transplants. She pointed out there were 500 people who died last year because no suitable organ was available and there are 6,500 people on the transplant waiting list. According to May, the ability to help these people “is limited by the number of organ donors who come forward”. Just some hours later the government’s intention to move to an opt-out system was confirmed via Twitter.

A week earlier, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told his party conference that he was “deeply moved by the Daily Mirrors campaign to change the organ donation law”. He announced that a Labour Government would follow the example of Wales and change the law to address the shortage of organs by increasing the number of presumed donors.  

While the majority of transplant surgeons, health charities and patients support and welcome a switch in the system to presumed consent, others don’t believe that a greater number of organs for transplantation will result from simply changing the rules. There is a lack of data to support an opt-out system, said a transplant surgeon from Northern Ireland in an interview with the BBC. What we need are “simple laws” and a “change in people’s minds to become culturally aware of organ donation” he continues.

The opt-out system is distinguished between “hard” and “soft” opt-out. Only in the former every person who did not explicitly refuse his/her consent in a certain register is considered a potential donor. In the latter, even though consent is presumed, the final decision is left to the next of kin. Most countries have a “soft opt-out” system, England most likely as well if it comes to a change.

In Ireland, similar discussions have taken place. In a submission to the public consultation process, which we reported on at the end of September, the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) welcomed the debate and the increased awareness but believes the introduction of a soft opt-out legislation “shouldn’t be considered at this point of time”. Examples included in the document state that changing to presumed consent doesn’t automatically lead to higher donation rates. According to the IKA, public education plays a crucial role: “People need to better understand how the organ donation process works and how it transforms lives. Only by investing in education more families will accept when asked in emotionally sensitive times.”