CANCER MAY CONTROL YOUR BODY FOR A WHILE, BUT ΝΟΤ YOUR SOUL…

We dreamed it, we organized it and we finally accomplished it!

Kapa3, always thinking and implementing actions whose main priority and beneficiaries are the patients with cancer, overcoming barriers, social, economic, and social and cultural characteristics! Cancer has no gender, no country, no color, no religion!!!

The team of Kapa3 could not ignore the challenges and needs of people who are forced to leave their countries of origin and, having the problems of their disease out of their priorities, put themselves in danger, crossing the borders of our country, hoping for a better and safer future.

Thus, studying the needs of these people, the group of professionals of KAPA3, being active and present in the wider region of Macedonia and Thrace, submitted a proposal for the implementation of actions in these areas, targeting the refugees and migrants of the region.

With great pleasure, we received the response of the King Baudouin Foundation, which recognized in this proposal our vision and approved funding to support and develop the Cancer Patient Guidance Centre-Kapa3, to provide immediate assistance to refugees and migrants crossing the borders of our country.

Together we can achieve the impossible! Looking cancer in the eye and fighting every day together, is a small but important battle for life, against cancer!

More specifically: The development of the existing network, the addition of mental health professionals, and the development of actions and activities in new places, with new partners, will allow us to help much more in the process of better and more complete treatment of the incidents and difficulties we face.

With funding from the King Baudouin Foundation, over the next 6 months, we will strengthen our network of psychologists, sociologists, and social workers, with a focus on the 15-24 age group, to continue providing primary care and support throughout their treatment. Part of the funding will be used to translate the Kapa3 online portal into at least two languages, in addition to English, with Ukrainian being the first, so that our citizen’s accessibility to any portal of the Public Health System is immediate and seamless.

The Organization has a website and an app where it provides general support and information as well as personalized support to each beneficiary. The staffing of the network with permanent personnel will become the basis for the successful targeting, which is, No One Feels Alone! The activation of psychological support for patients, the categorization of patients by age and the activation of actions to solve additional problems related to each of these age groups are some of the actions that we are ready to take to support these vulnerable groups!

We are well aware that the Greek health system and the support of medical care for cancer patients provided mainly in the country’s public hospitals, given high care costs and economic conditions, are not chosen by a significant number of patients, mainly immigrants, and refugees. The fact that Kapa3 operates in the structures and departments of hospitals that exclusively support cancer patients allows us to be able to record cases and extract qualitative and quantitative data and results to improve and create new actions in this direction.

Our vision has inspired and found support beyond borders! Cancer can control the body of patients for a while, but the soul, which strengthens the power in the battle with cancer, cannot be controlled!!!

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September has been established as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

It is a rare disease, according to the Hellenic Society of Pediatric Hematology – Oncology (EEPAO), but with serious consequences for both patients and their families. A disease that can be defeated but often with painful and long-term efforts and serious immediate and delayed complications.

The numbers are indicative: 300-350 new diagnoses every year in Greece, 35000 throughout Europe with 6000 children dying due to cancer. The Pediatric Oncologists-Hematologists, Elena Solomou and Antonis Kattamis (Professor NKUA) report that in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the research community turning to a new path of research approach.

In Lancet Oncology, the work of Sheena Mukkada and partners has shown that the scientific community is united for the common good at this difficult time.  This prospective study analyzed data from children and adolescents (<19 years) with cancer and COVID-19 around the world.  Typically, data from approximately 1500 patients from 131 hospitals in 45 countries, including patients from Greece, were used. 259 (19.9%) of the patients had a severe or critical infection, while 50 (3.8%) patients died.  Comparing the data with adults, mortality in adults with cancer is 28%, much higher than in children.

Childhood cancer must be a priority for any strategic planning of each country’s health system. These diseases in childhood are treatable, with overall survival at 80% in high-income countries. But when the right resources are lacking, such as in low-income and middle-income countries (where about three-quarters of the global number of childhood cancer is recorded),  only 20-30% of individuals have long-term survival. Delays in early detection, poor access to diagnostic services in the absence of full access to required cancer medicines, higher rates of comorbidity (e.g. malnutrition, infections and poverty) as well as refusal or abandonment of treatment are common, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. All these factors result in lower survival rates and higher morbidity rates than in high-income countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in access to each country’s health system despite efforts to tackle childhood cancer. With the mandate given by governments in the 2018 cancer resolution, the WHO, together with major international childhood cancer hospitals, set a goal of treating at least 60% of all children with cancer worldwide and reducing pain for all children.

The data from this study enable us to understand that during the pandemic there is a unique opportunity to develop and implement strategies tailored to specific health systems and to reduce inequalities in diagnosis and access to medication in children with cancer globally.

The scientific community makes concerted efforts to achieve high cure rates, with the best possible quality of life and the minimum possible long-term complications. Genetic and molecular biology are now the necessary element of diagnosis and treatment in a large part of neoplasms of children and adolescents. Personalized treatment, which will further increase the chances of cure for young patients, reducing immediate and ultimate toxicity, is a goal that may become a reality in the near future.

In this context, HSPHO has taken initiatives to strengthen cooperation between the oncology departments of the Territory and the recognition of our country as an equal member of European scientific organizations. It participates in international collaborative treatment protocols, thus ensuring access to innovative medicines and therapies under proper and organized supervision. Of course, the process of Greece’s full, equal access to each of these protocols comes at a high cost. Fortunately, however, in the long, arduous struggle of the children and their families, over the years, valuable helpers and supporters, associations and volunteers have stood by.

The understaffing of the Pediatric Hematology / Oncology Departments in medical, nursing and paramedical staff, the lack of public structures for targeted molecular tests, the lack of financial coverage of specialized tests and the difficulty of access to innovative medicines are problems for which we have repeatedly informed the competent bodies.

Each of us can help to the best of our ability! You can become a volunteer blood donor, or volunteer bone marrow donor, or help associations and organizations supporting children and their families, either through sponsorships or by donating some of his time.

Any effort to improve the care of children with cancer is welcome and important!

Learn more:

https://www.iatronet.gr/article/104037/paidiatrikos-karkinos-kai-pandhmia-covid19

https://www.iatronet.gr/eidiseis-nea/epistimi-zwi/news/52168/septemvrios-minas-efaisthitopoiisis-gia-ton-karkino-tis-paidikis-ilikias.html

Digital-in-Health: Unlocking the Value for Everyone

Digital technology can strengthen health systems, improve health financing and public health, and increase reach to underserved populations, according to a new World Bank report launched today. The report also finds that digital technology and data are especially helpful to prevent and manage chronic diseases, care for both young and aging populations, and prepare for future health emergencies and health risks triggered by climate change.

The report, Digital-in-Health: Unlocking the Value for Everyone, was launched today during the G20 Health Ministers Meeting in Gandhinagar, India. It presents a new way of thinking from simple digitization of health data to fully integrating digital technology in health systems: Digital-in-health. This means, for example, infusing digital technologies in health financing, service delivery, diagnostics, medical education, pandemic preparedness, climate and health efforts, nutrition, and aging.

The report also underscores that the successful use of digital technologies must be inclusive of all population groups, and ensure access to digital infrastructure, modern technologies, and skills, especially for vulnerable people.

Designed with people at the center, digital technology can make health services more personal, prevent healthcare costs from increasing, reduce differences in care, and make the job easier for those who provide health services,” said Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development, World Bank. “We hope that this report will give governments confidence and practical guidance, regardless of the country’s stage of digital maturity or fiscal challenges.

Improving health is getting harder, not easier. Health systems face serious and growing challenges and policy decisions are too often not based on reliable data.  It is estimated that some countries use less than 5% of health data to improve health which means that decisions are not based on data or data is not used effectively to make improvements. Within challenging fiscal environments, people-centered and evidence-based digital investments can help governments save up to 15% of health costs. The report presents pragmatic, low-cost actions to improve digital-in-health, no matter the maturity of a country’s systems or digital infrastructure. For example, better health data governance and standards to ensure systems can readily connect and exchange information are not costly but will be game changing in reducing siloed digital solutions and fragmentation.

In India, we have shown that digital innovations such as tele-consultations have reached more than 140 million people and provided accessible, affordable and efficient healthcare for everyone,” said Mansukh L Mandaviya, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, India. “We believe a digital-in-health approach can unlock the value of digital technologies and data and has the potential to prevent disease and lower healthcare costs while helping patients monitor and manage chronic conditions.” 

 

To help countries embrace a digital-in-health approach, the report proposes three essential areas to guide investments:

  1. Prioritizeevidence-based digital investments that tackle the biggest problems and focus on the needs of patients and providers.
  2. Connect the regulatory, governance, information, and infrastructure dots so that patients know that data is safe and health workers can use digital solutions transparently.
  3. Scale digital health for the long run based on trust with sustainable financing, and improved capacity and skills for digital solutions.

It will take global, regional, and country leadership to make digital-in-health a reality. The report recommends strong country leadership involving all relevant sectors and stakeholders, including civil society. Digital technology and data improvements will involve investments beyond the health sector and new partnerships with the private sector. A digital-in-health mindset needs to be a routine aspect of annual health system planning, budgeting, and implementation.

The World Bank is committed to helping low-and middle-income countries to make digital-in-health a reality to improve health for everyone. Over the past decade, the World Bank has invested almost $4 billion in digital health including in health information systems, digital governance, identification systems, and infrastructure.

For more information, including a copy of the new report, Digital-in-Health: Unlocking the Value for Everyone, please visit:

Website: www.worldbank.org/en/topic/health

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WBG_Health

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/worldbank

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/worldbank

 

Conceptualizing the Mechanisms of Social Determinants of Health: A Heuristic Framework to Inform Future Directions for Mitigation

A large body of scientific work examines the mechanisms through which social determinants of health (SDOH) shape health inequities. However, the nuances described in the literature are infrequently reflected in the applied frameworks that inform health policy and programming.

We synthesize extant SDOH research into a heuristic framework that provides policymakers, practitioners, and researchers with a customizable template for conceptualizing and operationalizing key mechanisms that represent intervention opportunities for mitigating the impact of harmful SDOH.

In light of scarce existing SDOH mitigation strategies, the framework addresses an important research-to-practice translation gap and missed opportunity for advancing health equity.

Conceptualizing the Mechanisms of Social Determinants of Health!

I. SDOH
Health inequities are most often understood as associated with the social determinants of health (SDOH)

II. Opportunity
A practical, heuristic framework for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers is needed to serves as a roadmap for conceptualizing and targeting the key mechanisms of SDOH influence

  • Unifying principles

1. SDOH are underlying causes of health inequities
-> Meaningful community engagement in data generation and interpretation for understanding and mitigating underlying health inequity drivers and multilevel resilience factors

2. SDOH shape health inequities through contextual influences
-> Development, evaluation, and scale up of multilevel interventions that address the mechanisms of SDOH at the structural, psychosocial, and clinical/biomedical levels

3. SDOH contextual disadvantage is not deterministic
-> Adoption of individualized/differentiated, decentralized, and community-based service delivery models

4. SDOH shape health over the life course
-> Proactive intervention focused on prevention and health promotion as well as restorative care to maintain and improve physical, mental, and psychosocial functioning and quality of life

5. SDOH operate through biological embedding
-> Greater prioritization of harmful SDOH mechanisms and mitigation of their biological impact in clinical education and practice, including investment in biomarkers for early detection of and intervention on emerging disease trajectories

6.SDOH operate intergenerationally
-> Prioritization of family-based approaches to restorative health care, prevention, and health promotion

7. SDOH shape clustering and synergies of health inequities
-> Greater integration of comprehensive, interdisciplinary, team-based health services delivered within a value-based framework and at the top of providers’ licenses

8. SDOH mechanisms to produce health inequities
-> Departure from vulnerability- and deficiency-focused paradigms for understanding health inequities toward multilevel resilience-focused paradigms for reducing health inequitiess

An Organizing Framework of SDOH Mechanisms

1. Underlying causal factors
-> Two distinct classes of social influence: SDOH capital and SDOH processes

2. Mediating factors
-> Two mechanisms: environmental and behavioral exposure and biological susceptibility

3. Moderating factors
-> Resilience – as collective action that supports the ability of communities to thrive when confronted with structural challenge

4. Health inequity outcomes
-> The impact of SDOH mechanisms on health inequities is dependent on the broader patterns of morbidity within the community of interest

Check out the article by Marco Thimm-KaiserAdam Benzekri and Vincent Guilamo-Ramos here:

https://lnkd.in/e57GXthQ

Cancer Effects on Caregivers and Work

A CANCER DIAGNOSIS RESULTS IN A LOT OF CHANGES for both the patient and the caregiver.

For the caregiver, those changes can include adjusting work schedules, which, in turn, can affect their finances.

The unexpected expense of cancer treatments coupled with the lack of paid leave can be a one-two punch to caregivers’ financial resources. “For many caregivers, keeping debt low or nonexistent may not be possible,” says Cathy J. Bradley, a health economics researcher and co-author of a study titled “Working, Low Income, and Cancer Caregiving: Financial and Mental Health Impacts,” published online April 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. “The Federal Reserve reports that many households would have difficulty absorbing $400 in unexpected costs. Cancer treatments are among the most expensive treatments in the United States.”

In many instances, caregivers can take paid leave to care for their loved one, which can mitigate financial hardship, but that’s not always the case. Often, caregivers are faced with taking unpaid leave or having to stop working altogether—both of which negatively impact their finances.

According to Bradley’s study, 35% of cancer caregivers stopped working and 30% saw their household debt increase. Those in households earning less than the median household income were more likely to experience decreased income and stop work than peers in similar financial situations who were caring for people with conditions other than cancer.

“Data on reasons for stopping work was not part of this study, but we speculate that caregiving demands are greater for cancer patients,” says Bradley, an associate dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. “We also speculate that lower-income households cannot pay for additional help so that the caregiver can continue working.”

A key element forcing caregivers to stop work is no paid leave at their workplace. According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), studies show that cancer patients with paid leave have higher rates of job retention and lower rates of financial burden. However, 48% of caregivers report experiencing problems related to financial pressure caused by not being able to work or having to reduce work hours to care for their loved one.

“Cancer treatment is so all-consuming for the patient but also for the family and anyone who is caregiving for the patient,” says Jennifer Hoque, associate policy principal on access to care for ACS CAN. “And that includes all-consuming with finances and time. Time is money. The more time you have to spend caregiving for the cancer patient, the more potential for lost wages and other money you’re spending. And it’s not just time caring for the patient. It’s also transportation, taking the patient to and from their treatments. Sometimes it’s lodging because sometimes you have to stay overnight.”

To help cancer caregivers, ACS CAN supports legislation providing for paid leave in the workplace so everyone has access to it and can help their family members. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act was introduced in Congress on May 17. If passed, it would provide workers with a maximum of 12 weeks of financial support during a family or medical leave from work. In addition, 11 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted paid leave laws.

Finding assistance is crucial for cancer caregivers. “Caregivers provide a tremendous service to their families and society at large with very few supports,” Bradley says. “As a result, they suffer not only physical and mental consequences, but they also suffer financial consequences that last for years. Lower-income households take on the greatest financial burden and may never recover.”

If you’re caring for a cancer patient, it’s important to find out what type of leave is available. For instance, the Family and Medical Leave Act currently in effect provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a one-year period. Although leave is unpaid, the law protects your job while you’re away from work. Also, find out how flexible your employer is in allowing remote work or changing your work hours for doctor appointments and treatments.

Other assistance may be available through local, state and national programs such as the CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation, HealthWell Foundation, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Patient navigators at your loved one’s hospital or cancer treatment center can also be a valuable resource in advising you about financial assistance.

Cancer Effects on Caregivers and Work

A Difficult Duo: cancer and mental health

MOST PEOPLE DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER experience some level of anxiety and grief. However, with an estimated one in five U.S. adults living with a mental illness, many people with cancer will also have preexisting mental health conditions.

People living with conditions such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disease often take drugs like antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, stimulants or antipsychotics. They may regularly see a psychiatrist or counselor. Thus, the mere thought of more doctors’ appointments and cancer treatments that might interact with their current drug regimen can be a significant source of stress.

By being completely honest and forthcoming with oncology providers, people who have mental health issues and cancer can get help to manage both health conditions.

The following tips can help to set a foundation for support:

1) Expect that news of your cancer diagnosis and necessary treatments could exacerbate preexisting mental health issues. You may feel more depressed or anxious than your baseline. While this can be part of normal adjustment, speak up if your symptoms interfere with your ability to function or to adhere to your cancer treatment regimen.

2) Ask to connect with your hospital’s behavioral health or oncology social work professional at the start of your treatment or as soon as possible. It can help to have someone who can help you process the experience. That person, with your permission, can also communicate regularly with your psychiatrist or counselor, if needed.

3) Tell your oncologist if you are taking medications for your mental health condition. If your medication list is complex, ask for a referral to a psychiatrist who is trained in psycho-oncology and is well versed in potential interactions between cancer drugs and mental health drugs. Many cancer centers have staff with this expertise; others can refer you to someone in the community.

4) Some cancer drugs interact with psychiatric medications and vice versa. For example, many women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer are prescribed a type of hormone therapy called tamoxifen, which reduces the chance of cancer coming back after treatment. However, some antidepressants, such as Prozac (fluoxetine) and Paxil (paroxetine), can inhibit an enzyme that is broken down by tamoxifen, which would make treatment less effective. You may need to switch to a different antidepressant or cancer drug.

5) Fatigue is a frequent companion of both depression and cancer treatment. Psychiatrists can prescribe drugs that are safe to use during treatment and can increase energy.

6) Enlist the help of your existing mental health support community and explore additional resources to ease the months of cancer treatment. If you have been attending a support group or day program, try to keep going to meetings. If you are already receiving mental health support, continue your relationship with your therapist, who should also speak occasionally with someone on your cancer care team.

7) Keep in mind how much you’ve already overcome as you approach this new challenge. Rely on the tools you’ve learned along the way and be open to asking for help. 

A Difficult Duo

Essential cancer screening and diagnosis services must be included in UHC schemes to reduce mortality

The earlier a cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat successfully, often with fewer side effects, and at a lower cost. In many high-income regions, such as Europe and the United States, survival rates for cancer have risen in past decades, in part thanks to routine screening that detects cancers at an early stage. It’s especially true for common cancers like cervical, breast, colorectal, and prostate, where routine screening offers a clear test and methodology for early detection.

Investing in routine screening programmes for asymptomatic cancers as well as the early detection of symptomatic cancers and diagnostic and referral services is, therefore, a cost-efficient approach to mitigate the public health costs of cancer. These are estimated to reach USD 458 billion globally by 2030, and cut the projected global economic cost of cancers, estimated at USD 25.2 trillion for the period 2020-2050.

Such investments in services must be accompanied by clear communication about the necessity and benefits of such measures. It is also critical that the general public have access to reliable information on possible early signs of certain cancers (notably, breast, cervical, lung, prostate, ovarian and testicular) and primary healthcare staff must be equipped to spot signs of cancer – with rapid referral options for screening and then treatment.

Unfortunately, many people around the world still lack access to these essential services. In low- and middle-income countries in particular, cancer prevention, diagnosis and care remain a luxury that is out of reach for many.

A significant number of people, particularly those from low-income communities, face barriers that prevent them from accessing necessary health services, such as the distance to healthcare facilities and costs of healthcare – with the risk of financial toxicity if they must be paid for out of pocket.

A weak health system and an absence of knowledgeable healthcare providers can also stand in the way of timely cancer detection and diagnosis.

To close these gaps, routine screening, cancer diagnosis and referral services must be included in health insurance benefits packages.

UHC cannot be achieved unless everyone has access to affordable cancer care. At the same time, without the benefits offered by UHC, access to potentially life-saving screenings remains limited. This means someone may die of a cancer that could have been detected and treated at an earlier stage, but either an early detection programme was not available or that person could not access it, for financial or other reasons. A cost-efficient national cancer control plan with essential services – including routine screening and diagnosis – covered by national health insurance schemes available to everyone – can break down these barriers to accessibility, availability and affordability.

Indeed, often cancer treatment by national health insurance schemes but not screening. Issues of stigma that surround many cancer tests (for instance, those that concern sexual organs) therefore compound concerns about cost or fears of a diagnosis (e.g. cancer may be considered a death sentence, so why get tested?) to prevent high numbers of people getting a timely diagnosis, resulting in many patients presenting with late-stage cancers.

At the second High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage taking place on 21 September 2023, Governments are expected to adopt a set of new commitments to accelerate UHC implementation. This meeting will provide an opportunity for UICC to advocate for including comprehensive cancer prevention and control measures in UHC benefits packages.

In preparation for this pivotal meeting, UICC reached out to its members to learn about their concerns and inform its advocacy strategy in the lead-up to the UN HLM on UHC.

UICC is also organising a series of Virtual Dialogues intended to facilitate discussions around UHC and its impact on cancer control. The first dialogue organised in early May looked at UHC and prevention. A second Virtual Dialogue on UHC and early detection will take place on 20 July, and look at examples of successful advocacy to include screening and early detection in UHC benefit packages (for instance, mammography reimbursement in Algeria) and the use of legislation to support screening and early detection programmes and referral to treatment.

Read more :

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/essential-cancer-screening-diagnosis-services-must-included-uhc-schemes%3FtrackingId=yU3y0j6Af4hHzyucBwUSyw%253D%253D/?trackingId=yU3y0j6Af4hHzyucBwUSyw%3D%3D

 

Empowering patients through medical technologies for a healthier future

By constantly investing in existing and future technologies, the medical technology sector contributes to a healthier Europe. The 2023 MedTech Forum looked at some key trends in legislation and business and the role that EU policymakers can play to bring medical innovations to patients in a timely manner.

Europe takes great pride in its robust social security systems and the fundamental principles of equitable healthcare access. Data indicates however that significant efforts are still required to ensure that all patients across the continent enjoy top-tier quality care and unfettered access to medical services and technologies.

Medical technologies empower early diagnoses, timely interventions, and remarkable outcomes. Medical technologies mend, revive, and improve body functions, while telemedicine and connected devices bring patient monitoring to new frontiers. Innovations speed up recovery, safeguard well-being, and equip healthcare workers with vital insights for optimal decisions and fewer complications. By relieving strain on healthcare systems, fostering social and economic vitality, averting complications, and advancing efficiency through cutting-edge data and machine learning, medical technologies are high-tech, high-value game-changers in healthcare. Diagnostic technologies also act as a first line of defence against disease outbreaks and help support their management.

Because of its innovation power, and its positive impact on patients, healthcare professionals, and health systems, the medical technology sector has developed into a key industry with an important economic and societal impact in Europe.

European leadership for the benefit of patients 

Europe’s 34,000 medical technology companies invest heavily in improving existing and innovating breakthrough technologies for the benefit of patients. These companies, 95% of which are SMEs, drive economic growth, provide employment in Europe, and boost EU exports. In doing so, the sector adheres to strict regulatory standards that ensure safe devices which live up to their performance claims. Patient health and well-being in mind, no other region in the world sets such high standards to guarantee that medical technologies are safe for patients and healthcare professionals to use.

Despite Europe’s fundamental strengths in health and medical solutions, there are growing indicationsthat new and existing products will struggle to reach European patients and health systems in a timely manner: 17% of today’s in vitro diagnostics are expected to be discontinued in Europe, particularly among SMEs and approximately 50% of medical device manufacturers are deprioritising the EU market (or will do so) as the geography of choice for first regulatory clearance of their new devices.

MedTech Europe, the leading European medical technology trade association, believes that there are persistent, system-level issues within the European regulations for medical technologies which lead to unpredictability and delays, dampen innovation, and undermine confidence in the long-term viability of the regulatory framework.

To remain a global leader in medical technologies, the EU must deliver a more patient-centred and innovation-friendly regulatory framework that addresses the system-level challenges of today while preparing for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Getting through the maze 

Beyond the medical technology industry’s sector-specific developments, fundamental changes have been brought about in the last decade by the mega trends of digitalisation and sustainability. Such trends contribute to a revolution in the way innovation in medical technologies is happening, driving the need for a more forward-looking regulatory mentality to allow innovation to thrive.

Legislative activity of the EU in this area has been, rightly, immense – and much more needs to be done to ensure that all the rules-in-development which will impact medical technologies will actually work together to deliver products to patients. The EU’s Digital Strategy, driving regulation on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and data, including the European Health Data Space and the European Green Deal will legislate tectonic changes, including in the area of product design, are coming with a substantial set of new or updated requirements for medical technologies.

Against this background, substantial legislations are also being revised, such as the ones on Product Liability and Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. It is paramount to include principles that ensure patients across the EU can benefit from a high level of protection and businesses are provided with legal certainty.

These new rules will significantly impact the way and speed in which technologies can be brought to market and accessed by those who need them. Getting medical technology innovations to European patients and healthcare systems in fact can often feel like navigating a complex and ever-shifting maze.

As a result, whether for R&D investment, clinical research, manufacturing or new product launches, Europe slowly losing ground to other geographies on innovation, because the maze seems to be getting harder to navigate. The EU thus has a big task ahead to further its efforts towards driving harmonisation and creating an environment of legal certainty for businesses.

The slowly approaching end of the EU legislative cycle is a unique opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and what is still to be done. It is not a time to rush to the finish line but to stay level-headed and look for effective solutions to ensure medical technologies reach patients on time. We need to solve existing challenges in a comprehensive, sustainable manner, setting the tone for a future environment that will allow patients to continue benefiting from first-line, quality medical technologies and more equitable access to healthcare, and health systems to build the long-term resilience they need. The medical technology industry in Europe stands ready to contribute and collaborate to make this a reality.

This article was produced in partnership with Medtech Europe. MedTech Europe is the European trade association for the medical technology industry including diagnostics, medical devices and digital health.

https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/news/article/empowering-patients-through-medical-technologies-for-a-healthier-future

A post-emergency COVID-19 vaccine strategy: WHO’s end of emergency declaration spells out hope but challenges remain

The declaration of the end to COVID-19 as a public emergency is a symbolic signpost, but COVID-19 remains a threat and vaccination can play a key role in addressing it.

The declaration of the end to COVID-19 as a public health emergency is a symbolic signpost of the transition from an emergency to a more sustainable mode of preparedness and reaction. COVID-19 remains a threat though, and vaccination can play a key role in addressing it.

Thirty-eight months into the pandemic, and COVID-19 claims a life every three minutes globally. This leaves no room for complacency.

Instead, we need, to remain vigilant, have a coherent approach on vaccination and continue reducing COVID-19 hospitalisations, severe disease, as well as protecting our healthcare systems.

In this regard, Member States should strive for a better coordination among their national vaccination strategies in order to avoid major differences, with the EU having a stronger role through further harmonisation of some aspects of the vaccine administration in the Member States.

At the same time, while predictable pattern of COVID-19 seasonality has yet to be established, the impact of the disease has been much higher during the period corresponding to the traditional influenza season. Therefore, where possible, COVID-19 and influenza vaccination campaigns need to be combined.

Second, we need to reflect on the use of joint procurement as part of the EU’s vaccine strategy.

The strategy has been one of the milestones of the EU’s response to the pandemic. It demonstrated the unity of the EU as a whole, facilitated access to a broad and diversified portfolio of safe and affordable vaccines, and saved the lives of more than a million Europeans since the end of 2020.

Capitalising on this success, we need to go one-step further and, seriously, consider extending it to treatments of very rare types of cancer, especially paediatrics, as well as some rare diseases.

Nevertheless, increasing public confidence in vaccination is a key prerequisite to reach these strategies’ objectives.

As EPP Coordinator at the COVI Committee, I find the major disparities in vaccination coverage between and within Member States as well as the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, quite concerning. In order to address these, we have to continue tackling misinformation and disinformation, and reduce vaccination hesitancy through science-based communication on the benefits of vaccination.

Last, we should not forget that these challenges are essentially global. The EU played a decisive role in the global response to the COVID-19, by donating hundreds of millions of doses, and billions of aid to assist developing countries.

Building on that, the EU has to continue playing its role in providing support, improving access to vaccines for LMICs, as well as, boost global health research to develop the technologies and countermeasures, which are necessary to improve health.

By Stelios Kympouropoulos

Stelios Kympouropoulos (EL, EPP) is a member of Parliament’s EMPL and PETI Committees, the SANT Subcommittee and the COVI Special Commmittee.

Digital and digital non-clinical solutions

➡️What will be the digital and digital non-clinical solutions for people with cancer in the future 🧐
This post aims to consider some possible digital solutions to bring medical resources and information to patients in the future.

➡️📱Mobile Apps: Mobile cancer apps can play a crucial role in patient education, symptom management and treatment monitoring.
These apps could provide information about cancer, medications, side effects, proper diets, as well as reminders for medications and medical appointments.

➡️⌨️Connected objects and wearables:
Wearable devices such as smart watches, bracelets and monitoring sensors could be used to monitor the vital signs of cancer patients in real time.

➡️Artificial Intelligence
(Al) and Data
Analytics: Al can be used to analyze large amounts of medical data and help identify patterns, correlations and predictions. This could contribute to a better understanding of risk factors,
treatment responses and patient
outcomes.

➡️Virtual Reality (VR):
Virtual reality can be used to help cancer
patients manage pain, anxiety and stress. Calming and interactive virtual environments can be created to distract patients during medical treatments or to help them relax during difficult times

For more just read: E-Health4Cancer : Sharing good practices in the use of nonclinical e-health solutions for cancer patients and their caregivers in Europe. Non-profit Organizations

https://www.linkedin.com/company/ehealth4cancer/