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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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.

WHO/Europe explores collaborations to improve quality of health information online

The WHO Office on Quality of Care and Patient Safety in Athens recently joined forces with YouTube Health to host a workshop in Berlin to enhance the quality of health information online and support Member States’ efforts in this area. This collaborative endeavour lays the groundwork to promote health literacy and make high-quality health information universally accessible.

“We are very much looking forward to working together for a world where people can access the health information they need online without having to guess its accuracy,” noted Dr Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat, Director of WHO/Europe’s Division of Country Health Policies and Systems, at the workshop.

The role of digital platforms in health

The COVID-19 pandemic brought into the spotlight the prominent role of digital platforms in disseminating health-related information and the importance of reliable information, while also exposing the potential perils of misinformation and disinformation. Data indicates that, in the WHO European Region, a large share of consultations now take place online, as people’s initial approach is to search for symptoms and medical advice online. Health-related searches make up 7% of daily online searches, with approximately 4 billion results related to COVID-19.

In 2021, YouTube had over 110 billion views of health condition videos globally and is working on raising high-quality health content to make it easier for people to identify credible information that can help answer their questions. Commenting on the platform’s impact in the online space, Dr Nira Goren, Clinical Lead at YouTube Health, said, “People use platforms like YouTube to seek answers to questions, such as how do I live with breast cancer or how do I take care of myself.” An increasing number of individuals are also turning to online platforms to share personal stories, alleviate acute distress, and build a community to help decrease feelings of isolation.

However, online health information that is inaccurate or misleading can pose a significant risk to one’s health. A recent WHO review showed that infodemics and misinformation negatively affect people’s health behaviours. The distorted understanding of health hazards, such as smoking, alcohol intake, unhealthy eating habits, or physical inactivity, can result in various life-altering and potentially fatal noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer or diabetes.

Empowering health through high-quality health information online

High-quality health information can empower individuals to take control of their health, make informed decisions about their treatment options, and improve their overall well-being and quality of life. With more and more people relying on the internet for medical advice, it is essential that the information available is reliable, accurate, easy to understand, and up-to-date. Collaboration with health care stakeholders in Member States across the Region is needed to ensure this. It also requires fostering inclusive partnerships that bring together patients, health care professionals, ministries, nongovernmental organizations, and major social media platforms.

“Social media platforms are crucial tools to improve and disseminate high-quality health information online and we should work on that together, involving everyone in this process. Our primary focus should be to actively listen to community concerns, promote understanding of risk and health expert advice, engage and empower communities to take positive action, and support health professionals and

Moreover, fostering trust in authoritative online health information sources at the population level entails working with academia and other partners to create further scientific evidence on the impact of misinformation on quality of care, acting as a lighthouse in consolidating the creation of scientific evidence.

“Empowering communities with education is essential to helping people live healthier lives. YouTube Health is delighted to interact with WHO and authoritative health sources across Europe to increase access to evidence-based, equitable and engaging health information,” noted Dr Garth Graham, Director and Global Head, Healthcare and Public Health, YouTube.

Πηγή: who.int

Depression Is Often Overlooked in Cancer Patients

When Carly Flumer was a teenager, she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She saw a psychiatrist and a therapist regularly, and got medication and counseling. She managed her mental health well for over a decade. But in January 2017, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of thyroid cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes by the time it was diagnosed.

That’s when things got complicated again.

Flumer, then 27, underwent surgery to remove her thyroid. She also received intensive radiation. To all observers, she got a clean bill of health — at least with regard to her cancer. But, she says, her mental health had suffered.

“People absolutely do not understand the panic a cancer diagnosis can cause,” Flumer says. “My depression and anxiety got worse when I got diagnosed. I also have had more suicidal thoughts because of the cancer,” she says. “The side effects of treatment are real. So is the stress of waiting to see if the cancer comes back again.”