The daily reality of cancer patients and professionals is very much shaped by health policy, and the EU plays a key role in Member States’ cancer care, prevention and control.
The ECCO Oncopolicy Forum (OPF) is the forum for cancer professionals representing the whole spectrum of care, researchers and patients to engage directly with EU policy makers at the highest level.
The OPF 2015 – this year part of the European Cancer Congress – will not be an exception. We are delighted to announce the participation of EU Commissioner for Health Dr. Vytenis Andriukaitis. The Commissioner will deliver opening speeches at both the OPF – under the title ‘The role of the EU in supporting cancer prevention and control’ – and the Opening Plenary Session of the European Cancer Congress together with ECCO President Dr. Martine Piccart.
As the head of the European Commission Health Directorate since November 2014, Dr. Andriukaitis continues the tradition of his predecessors, who also actively engaged in previous OPF editions. Dr. Andriukaitis will on this occasion reveal the Commission’s vision for cancer in the years to come.
Keeping in line with the reputation of cutting-edge innovative content, the OPF 2015 will this year strive to address what we call ‘oncology timebombs’, focusing on the pressing issues of cancer survivorship, cancer in the elderly and shortages in the oncology workforce. It is in these areas that urgent strategic action is needed to avoid a full-blown healthcare and social crisis in the near future. Discussion between prominent cancer experts and policy makers will seek to solicit concrete and feasible solutions to answer the following broad problems:
- How to deliver the best possible follow up care to survivors while ensuring cost containment and sustainability?
- How to ensure that patients are not denied active treatment despite an advanced age?
- How to effectively prevent workforce shortages in oncology disciplines such as the ones anticipated due to migration and issues relation to professional training and certification?
In addition, the OPF 2015 will expand on the already pressing challenge of inequalities in treatment outcomes across Europe. The high pertinence of the issue is echoed at EU level – since the beginning of his mandate, Commissioner Dr. Adriukaitis has already expressed the need of “bridging the wide inequalities in health that persist in Europe.”
In light of high medicine pricing and marked accessibility issues, multi-disciplinary specialists will present the evidence and highlight good practice in health economics and valuation based on first-hand involvement. An intervention from the industry sector will contribute an essential piece of the puzzle, and all participants will explore a way forward to ensure that no one lacks the treatment that they need and deserve.
The presence of the EU Commissioner ties in with another key area of the OPF 2015 – the cross-border healthcare directive of which the European Reference Networks are an integral part. Indeed, Article 12 of the directive is dedicated to European Reference Networks (ERNs) between healthcare providers and centres of expertise in the Member States, most specifically in the area of complex diseases. In a recent letter to EU Health Ministers, the Commissioner stressed the need “to make sure that patients benefit in real life from EU law on cross-border healthcare, and to further seize the potential of European Reference Networks”1.
Expected to be launched at the end of 2015, the purpose of the European Reference Networks is to bring together highly specialised healthcare providers across the EU and help ensure affordable, high-quality and cost-effective healthcare to patients with conditions requiring a particular concentration of knowledge or resources – such as rare cancers.
EU funding opportunities for you and your team is set to be a popular session of the OPF 2015. Among the announced highlights is the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2014 – 2020, HORIZON 2020. With a budget allocated to Health, Demographic Change and Well-being, the programme supports initiatives on molecular basis of disease, therapeutic innovation, eHealth, integrated care, and multidisciplinary application of knowledge. The EU Health Programme – domain of the European Commission Health department with Commissioner Andriukaitis at its head – also integrates a range of highly relevant actions for cancer, and opportunities for involvement will be presented.
By participating to both the OPF and the European Cancer Congress as whole, the EU Commissioner will highlight the above issues central to the OPF 2015 for all ECC participants.
Those attending the OPF track will in addition have the opportunity to:
- Go in depth on the What, the Why, and the How of EU policy initiatives of immediate relevance to cancer
- Share the successes and challenges in relation to health and cancer control policy as they experience it daily,
- Gather insights on how to best channel scientific progress and lessons learned in clinical practice into policy in a patient-centred manner,
- Grasp the opportunities of the EU landscape for strategies and activities to serve the patient.
Central to the OPF remains the essential objective of the event and the key reason for participation:
- Identifying EU initiatives and stakeholders that can support the multi-stakeholder cancer community in channelling lessons learned to foster continuous progress and the best possible care delivered to each patient.
We look forward to your participation in the OPF 2015!
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