On 9 June EKHA organised a webinar on the need for innovation in Renal Replacement Therapy (RRT) as a side meeting of the 57th ERA-EDTA Congress.
The webinar format allowed for an interactive participation from all around the world. Patients shared their stories, needs and expectations from the future. Interviews with ERA-EDTA’s new president Prof. Christoph Wanner and Dutch Kidney Foundation Director Tom Oostrom discussed the way forward to bring about change in Europe.
EKHA President Prof. Raymond Vanholder presented the burden of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Europe and the role of EKHA as a key stakeholder in raising awareness at the EU level. His two recommendations to tackle CKD were: More EU funding for research and better data collection on frequency, health economic aspects and quality of life of patients.
Another highlight from the webinar was U.S. Food and Drug Administration Associate Director Dr Murray Sheldon’s presentation on the Kidney Health Initiative in the USA. Dr Sheldon stated that the lack of innovation in the 60-year history of dialysis, despite many technological advancements, should be tackled without further delay. Accordingly, he laid out an international roadmap for innovative RRT in Europe based on the US experience, and called for more cooperation. His call was echoed by Clemens van Blitterswijk, Director of MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine at Maastricht University, who explained how funding can generate the disruptive technology needed to save and improve the lives of millions dependent on RRT.
The webinar also addressed how to amplify the voice of kidney health advocates at the EU level and bring about policy change. European Cancer Leagues Advocacy and Project Manager Anna Prokůpková shared insights into the success of the cancer lobby in the EU and what the kidney community can do to emulate these achievements. In a video address, MEP Group for Kidney Health Chair MEP Hilde Vautmans expressed her support and commitment to the kidney health agenda, and emphasised that this is a European battle:
“If we want to maintain our status of a pioneering continent, we cannot just stand by and watch the wave of new technology and innovation in other branches of the medical industry pass by. We have to fight for a better health of all Europeans, so also those thousands of patient who suffer from chronic kidney disease. More awareness in Europe, more European funding, more innovation. That is what I will be working for in the European Parliament over the next few years.”
The webinar ended with small group discussions allowing all participants to discuss and prioritise the recommendations of the speakers, which then led to the formulation of common conclusions and next steps. The top recommendations emerged as follows, based on participants’ votes:
- More EU funding for research and innovative product development
- Collaboration around joint vision and goals towards achieving it
- Building a strong European network
EKHA thanks all participants for a very fruitful discussion, the outcomes of which will surely inform our future work in the field.
You can see the full programme of the webinar here, and watch a compilation of the discussions below.